Next year’s election in Gauteng, the country’s most populous province, is most likely to result in a coalition provincial government because none of the major parties enjoys a 51% majority, says a new opinion poll.
The big loser – in Gauteng, as well as nationally – is the ANC, which has seen a countrywide drop in support of 10% since the 2014 elections.
Nationally, it will get a projected 52%, but will not do so in Gauteng, according to the poll, which was commissioned by the Institute of Race Relations (IRR).
In contrast, according to the survey, the Economic Freedom Fighters could double its support to almost 13% nationally.
The IRR survey – done telephonically with 981 respondents – said no party in Gauteng had more than 51% support.
IRR researcher Gareth van Onselen said the study suggested the ANC suffered a national drop of 10% of the support the party enjoyed in 2014, when it won a 62% majority in the last election.
He said although the ANC’s suggested loss of support in Gauteng could be echoed in other provinces, he argued Gauteng could not be compared with such major provinces as the Western Cape in terms of demographics, and so could not be used to indicate a national pattern.
The ruling party only enjoyed 52% of the respondents’ support in the poll, a number closer to the 2016 local government election result (53%). But Van Onselen warned that local government elections were materially different in terms of what they suggested about the electorate.
The land question, according to the study, ranked as the least important issue which concerned the voters.
However, political analyst Ralph Mathekga said he was wary of data from an organisation which lobbied against radical land reforms making a finding which supported their cause.
“When an institution has lobbied against land reform policies, it becomes difficult to see them as people who can produce a balanced argument on a position on the same topic,” said Mathekga.
“I do agree that the ANC at the moment is experiencing a huge drop in support which may be benefitting the other parties, particularly the EFF.”
He said the damning evidence coming out of the judicial inquiry into state capture was also hampering the party’s chances of gaining support as voters become ever more cynical about the ANC as an organisation as the inquiry unfolded.
Mathekga said the Democratic Alliance was also likely suffering a drop in support over internal squabbles and its lack of comment on issues such as race and land.
Van Onselen argued that the EFF was cashing in on leadership uncertainties perceived in the other major parties and their failure to speak to matters which voters cared most about.
“The ANC and the DA, to a degree, have failed to communicate their stance on what matters most to voters – the budget and the economy. This was the feeling of 40% of the respondents. Going going back to 1994, the economy has always been the number one issue that voters cared about.”