Quote of the week

[Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro] possesses, however, few of his predecessor’s resources, lacking not just oil revenue but Chávez’s surplus of charisma, humour and political skill. Maduro, unable to end the crisis, has increasingly sided with the privileged classes against the masses; his security forces are regularly dispatched into barrios to repress militants under the guise of fighting crime. Having lost its majority in Congress, the government, fearing it can’t win at the polls the way Chávez did, cancelled gubernatorial elections that had been set for December last year (though they now appear to be on again). Maduro has convened an assembly to write a new constitution, supposedly with the objective of institutionalising the power of social movements, though it is unlikely to lessen the country’s polarisation.

Greg Grandin
London Review of Books
19 May 2011

More thoughts on election results

In the absence of exit polls asking voters why they voted for their party of their choice, it is not possible to explain large swings in voter support with any certainty. In the Western Cape, making sense of the large swing to the DA is further complicated by the fact that the ID did not stand in the 2011 local government election. As the ID is in the process of merging with the DA and fought the election with the DA, one would have to know how many ID supporters decided to vote for the DA and what percentage threw their weight behind the ANC.

In KwaZulu/Natal where the IFP is in decline, the new kid of the block, the NFP, seems to be rising and where President Jacob Zuma’s presence as leader of the ANC has boosted the ANC.

Because there had already been a swing in the Western Cape from the ANC to the DA in the 2009 general election, it further complicates any analysis of the 2011 local government elections. Merely comparing 2006 results with 2011 results and drawing conclusions from that might well not give the full picture.

And of course, what happens in the Western Cape will not be replicated in Mpumalanga, KwaZulu/Natal or Limpopo. For me the two most interesting provinces to watch is the Western Cape (perhaps because I live here) and KwaZulu/Natal (where the IFP seems to be imploding and the ANC seems to be making steady gains).

Did the DA’s largely positive campaign sway undecided voters in the Western Cape? Was there a “Jimmy Manyi backlash” in the Western Cape amongst voters alienated by the ANC?  Did local factors, including allegations of corruption and mismanagement play a role in the swing to the DA in many towns across the Western Cape? Did infighting in the ANC in the Western Cape play a role by dissuading traditional ANC voters from going to the polls? Did voters actually buy the relentlessly punted message of the DA that it was the party that “delivered for all”?

Without exit polls it is really impossible to say. All one can do is speculate.

Taking the Breede Valley (Worcester) election results as an example, it is clear that the DA won a larger percentage of the vote than the DA/ID combined vote of 2006.

In 2006 the ANC won 18 seats with 46% of the vote, while the DA received 33.3% of the vote and 13 seats and the Independent Democrats won 5 seats with 11.4 percent of the vote. Preliminary results suggest the DA won Breede Valley (Worcester) in 2011 with 55.03% (22 seats), with the ANC second with 34.09% (14 seats), while 5 seats were shared among smaller parties.

About 75% of residents of this region is said to be “coloured”, 17% is said to be “African” and the rest is said to be “white”. A further swing to the DA (from 2009) would suggest that the “Jimmy Manyi factor” might have played a role here. But because the IEC website is frozen I could not check the results for this region for the 2009 election. It is therefore impossible to ascertain right now whether the DA did better in 2011 than it and the ID did together in 2009.

At the moment, results in large parts of Johannesburg are also unavailable. It is thus not possible to verify the DA claim that it has made some inroads into traditional ANC voting areas. Ultimately it might well be that the ANC overall portion of the vote would not have dropped as much as some pundits predicted before the election. Because of its success in KwaZulu/Natal, the ANC might well do better overall than some expected.

Whatever happens, the emerging narrative among chattering class pundits is that the DA is the big winner of the election while smaller parties have been the big loser. Money and the organisation it can buy, wins elections. The ANC and the DA had money. Smaller parties had none. Imagine Azapo or the PAC had the same funds as the DA. I suspect they would then have done far better than their dismal performance so far indicates.

Time, perhaps, to revisit the entire manner in which political parties are funded in South Africa?

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