Johannesburg – Recent polls estimating voter support for political parties suggest the African National Congress (ANC) might be compelled to form a coalition government after the 2024 elections. Research conducted by Ipsos and WITS University indicates the ANC has fallen below the 40% threshold, with the most optimistic estimate reaching 42%, as WITS Professor David Everatt stated.
While these polls should not be regarded as definitive electoral predictions, they hint at the possibility of the ANC losing its majority, given the ongoing decline in citizen support and confidence.
Against last night’s State of the Nation Address, in which President Cyril Ramaphosa reflected on 30 years of ANC governance, many ordinary South Africans and political analysts believe the ruling party is facing its most challenging election campaign since 1994.
Professor Everatt acknowledges there are several factors which could influence public support for the ANC between now and the elections. However, he does not anticipate the party securing a majority vote of 50%.
“At this point, I haven’t seen a single poll that says the ANC is going to make the halfway mark. So I think a coalition government is almost inevitable.”
South Africans Sceptical About Coalition Governments
Since the inception of coalition governments at the local level, their track record has demonstrated instability and volatility. Collaborating parties have faced challenges working together to fulfil their responsibilities and reach a consensus.
This unpredictable nature of coalition governments has trickled down, adversely impacting the South African citizens they intend to serve. Consequently, the term “coalition” now carries a negative connotation.
Given the ruling party’s already loose and unreliable history of corruption and service delivery, the prospect of forming a national coalition government with like-minded political entities does not instil much confidence in voters.
However, Professor Everatt has observed a different trend among voters who opt for formal agreements and pacts between political entities. He notes that such arrangements are perceived as more appealing and trustworthy than a coalition.
“In our survey, pacts struck voters as attractive. Although each of the 11 parties was still fighting as individual parties, they were forming not a coalition but a pact, which is a kind of formal agreement to be separate but together. That had considerable appeal, but I can tell you that in all the focus groups we ran, the word coalition has very negative connotations for voters, that’s based on experience.”