Election sketches new South African political landscape

Election sketches new South African political landscape
Supporters of the ruling ANC party cheer as election results are announced in Johannesburg.

JOHANNESBURG - South Africa's ruling African National Congress (ANC) bagged three times as many votes as its nearest rival in the recent general election, but 2014 may be remembered as the dawn of multi-party politics in the "Rainbow Nation".

In the end, when the rhetoric fell silent and the final votes were tallied, it wasn't even close.

Despite talk of a landmark election that would see a collapse in support - garnered over decades of clandestine struggle - for the ANC, the party freely and fairly walked away with the sort of result normally reserved for election-rigging dictatorships.

With all the votes counted on Saturday, the ANC won almost 11.5 million of a total 18.5 million votes cast.

But while the ANC's numerical citadel still stands tall, it's ramparts have been breached.

The party actually attracted fewer voters than the previous elections despite a population increase, hinting that its well-oiled and well-funded electoral machine may be struggling to energise its political base.

The ANC's share of the vote has now dropped around 11 per cent in a decade.

"The victory for the ANC has come despite, rather than because of, the performance of the economy over the past five years," said Shilan Shah of Capital Economics.

"Economic growth is unlikely to exceed two-to-three per cent in both the near and medium term... this will raise doubts over the ANC's ability to retain its majority beyond 2019." Worse still for the storied anti-apartheid party: while it sheers votes, it's nearest rival the Democratic Alliance is rapidly gaining ground.

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