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Yet another poll suggests ANC will need coalition partners to form national government

Yet another poll suggests ANC will need coalition partners to form national government
(Photo: Waldo Swiegers / Bloomberg via Getty Images)

A coalition government at the national level appears to be a strong possibility, with the latest Ipsos poll measuring political party support showing the ANC’s continued decline.

The ruling African National Congress (ANC) has been dealt yet another blow, with the most recent poll on how South Africans plan to vote finding that the embattled party could fall under the 40% mark in the upcoming national and provincial elections.

The latest poll, released by Ipsos on Tuesday, aligns with four other polls which show that the ANC is losing its grip on the majority vote it has enjoyed since 1994, and being forced to form a coalition government at a national level.

Analysts and many citizens have expressed scepticism about a national coalition government succeeding, given the spate of political instability and service delivery collapse in the wake of coalitions at the local government level.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Dramatic decline in electoral support of ANC clear from new national poll

The market research company hit the ground from 28 October to 1 December and asked 3,600 would-be voters which party they would vote for if the elections were held tomorrow. The face-to-face poll was designed to replicate a visit to the polling station, complete with an imitation ballot paper.

In its initial results, which do not take into account the 10% of undecided respondents, the poll indicated that the ANC’s support would decline to 38.5% nationally, well below the 51% or more the ruling party last week said it was gunning for.

The Economic Freedom Fighters fared far better, garnering 18.6% of the vote. The Red Berets’ increased support sees the party overtaking the Democratic Alliance (DA), which would get 17.3% of the votes.

The data mean that if the elections were held the day after interviews, the EFF would be a real contender to become the official opposition party in South Africa.

Ipsos’ poll is in stark contrast to the 2019 election results, which saw the ANC clinching a majority of 57.50 %, while the DA got 20.77 % of the vote and the EFF only 10.80 %.

Aside from the big three political parties, the Ipsos survey found that support for the IFP is at 3.6%, with ActionSA at 3.4%. Support for the ACDP is 0.9%, and for the FF+ it is 0.8%. Coupling this with the DA’s support, the Multi-Party Charter would draw about 33% of the vote, the poll found.

“However, these results should not be taken at face value as the figures include 10.1% (one in every 10) of the registered electorate who have not aligned themselves with a particular political party, indicated as ‘will not vote’, ‘refuse to answer’, or ‘don’t know’,” Ipsos said.

It considered how these voters could make their mark based on responses to questions related to party choice, preference or possible affiliation. When the poll was reworked, the numbers showed a slight change.

With the reworked numbers, the ANC polled 40.5%, with the DA retaining its role as the official opposition with 20.5% and the EFF following closely behind with 19.6%.

The IFP got 4.9% of the votes, Action SA 4.3%, FF+ 2.1%, ACT 1.5% and ACDP 1%. Polling was conducted before the launch of former president Jacob Zuma’s uMkhonto Wesizwe party. 

Low voter turnout likely to benefit bigger parties

Voter turnout will have a significant impact on the elections. In the 2019 national election, 66.05% of registered voters cast their vote.

The Ipsos poll found that expecting a high voter turnout of 69% to 71% would not be realistic due to the “widespread despondency regarding the country’s situation and low levels of trust in politicians and political parties”.

Read more in Daily Maverick: New poll confirms ANC slide – desperate South Africans want new options

“Conversely, a low voter turnout could potentially benefit the ANC, potentially elevating ANC support close to the halfway (50%) mark.”

These sentiments were echoed by international relations and political analyst Dr Sithembile Mbete, who, speaking on Reality Check with Redi Tlhabi, said abstaining from voting could benefit the ANC.

Mbete said because South Africa had a proportional representation electoral system, where the number of votes a party needs to get a seat in Parliament is based on voter turnout, abstaining from voting betters the ANC’s chances in the election.

“If the turnout is low, each of the two biggest parties we have in the system gets a bigger chunk of the pie because their voters are very likely to turn out,” Mbete said.

“If the pie is bigger, if more people turned out to vote, we are more likely to have greater variation in terms of how the pie is cut and how it is distributed.”

The Ipsos poll highlights this phenomenon by calculating support for political parties according to turnout scenarios.

In a high voter turnout scenario, the ANC’s support is 44%. However, if only about 39% to 41% of people turn out to vote, the ANC’s share of votes rises to 46.3%.

In the DA’s case, high voter turnout would give the party 20.2% compared with the 21% the party would achieve in a low voter turnout scenario.

By contrast, the EFF would see a decline to 16.5% if voter turnout was low, as opposed to 18.5% if as many people as possible exercise their right to vote.

“In the event of such an election outcome, the ANC would only require a party with about 4% to 6% national support as a coalition partner to establish a national government. A coalition involving just two parties could streamline negotiations and potentially enhance the coalition’s effectiveness.”

Read more in Daily Maverick: Three polls show ANC election support is falling off a cliff

Ipsos emphasised its poll was not a prediction.

“It’s critical to emphasise that these results DO NOT CONSTITUTE AN ELECTION PREDICTION,” it said. (Their capital letters.)

“Credible election predictions can only be made in the final stages leading up to the election. Various factors, including campaign dynamics, political and economic changes, as well as the state of essential services like electricity and water provision, can influence the election outcome in the final months.

“It is prudent to monitor all these developments closely before drawing any conclusions about the final election outcome.” DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Andrew Josephs says:

    Why are the polls excluding the Patriotic Alliance. Don’t tell me that no one is seeing what is happening on the ground.

    • Kenneth FAKUDE says:

      This is a poll on individuals on the ground not dependent on loudness of the can being kicked down the road.
      The DA has unveiled clear policies talking to the south African problems in real time, it remains to be seen how they plan to get the message across in a manner that it translates to election gains.
      The PA has hard working leaders with a serious image problem, they can easily appeal to people who want to prove that crime does pay.
      They did their time though.
      The EFF appeals to the struggling youth and poor communities as it talks to their situation but implementing radical policies is usually unfriendly to the economy.
      A functional DA and ANC coalition can be positive for a lot of sensible reasons, one of them experience in domestic and international relations.
      An ANC and EFF coalition will have a tough time attracting the broader community because of intended or unintended attack on a certain sector of the community through inflammatory rhetoric.
      There is also the potential of fighting for a place in the domestic and international stage.
      ACDP has been the America of south Africa when it comes to Israel which is surprising in it’s association with Christian values.
      Church has no business in politics.
      The rest of the parties might have identity issues.
      The IFP has been distracted by its traditional roles in KZN and their national role is blurred by they showed a lot of intergrity in parliamental roles.
      The numbers will reveal the direction we are going SA needs to win.

  • Gareth Dickens says:

    One looks at these polls with utter dismay and disgust at the abject failure of the opposition industrial complex in South Africa generally and the movement’s main protagonist – the media in particular. They have relentlessly besmirched the ANC with increasingly undisguised bias bordering on hatred. Its really been as shameless and as petty as a media can get sans anything to show for it!

    The opposition parties have been funded and promoted to the hilt with free PR disguised as fearless and impartial journalism. All this orchestrated by the faceless handlers who’ve now got all of us in a state of panic as we dread the imminent Armageddon of a collapsed country if the majority don’t all get some common sense and put the whities back in charge…..
    Yet the whole project appears nowhere near its undeniable aim of dislodging black majority rule.
    This is what results when you set prejudiced moralism loose on a society as some form of political strategy – insulting the elected leaders of the group you wish to entice to the point that it appears to be a blanket denigration of the darker races as congenital nincompoops without a shred of competence in any thing they do.
    Most black folks will tell you for free that they have seen through this contrivance for ages, namely that criticism of the ANC is a proxy for contempt and disrespect of black people in general. They know it as much as we do! The whole thing is entirely stupid!

    • Hilary Morris says:

      And you’re from which planet? I would be staggered to find more than maybe 100 people who think a return to white rule is either possible or desirable……..

    • robby 77 says:

      One looks at your comment with utter dismay. You clearly haven’t noticed the empirical evidence of utter and abject failure of the ANC. Failed, failures.

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