ANC holds on to power but its share of vote is reduced

The party now faces the most serious challenge to its authority since it took control 15 years ago

South Africa's ruling ANC has won a huge victory in the country's election but fell short of the two-thirds of votes needed to ensure a parliamentary majority big enough to make sweeping constitutional changes unchallenged.

Official results from the election – which will see the African National Congress leader Jacob Zuma become President on 9 May – showed yesterday that the ruling party won 65.9 per cent of the vote.

The margin that would let the ANC change the constitution is largely symbolic. The party has repeatedly stressed that it has no intention of doing this.

However, Steven Friedman, a political analyst, said the result meant the ANC now had to worry more about the opposition than at any time since it took power 15 years ago. "The effect of them not getting the two-thirds, despite the euphoria, really underlines that there has been a drop in the ANC vote," he said.

Financial markets, wary of a policy shift to the left under a Zuma presidency, may welcome a limit on the party's power.

The Independent Electoral Commission released official results and said that the ANC would be allocated 264 seats in South Africa's 400-seat parliament after it won 11.65 million votes out of 17.68 million valid votes cast in Wednesday's election.

Although a newly formed party of ANC dissidents has failed to make a dramatic impact, the ruling party has seen its share of the vote fall for the first time since the end of apartheid in 1994. It won nearly 70 per cent in 2004.

The ANC also lost control of the Western Cape province, centre of the tourist industry, to the official opposition Democratic Alliance (DA), which is led by Helen Zille, a white woman.

But the ANC celebrated what was still an overwhelming victory under the leadership of Mr Zuma, who just three weeks ago succeeded in getting a court to drop corruption charges his supporters say were politically motivated. The party's credentials for ending white minority rule were more important for many voters than its doubtful record on fighting poverty, violent crime and Aids.

The ANC's closest rival was the DA, with 16.66 per cent of the vote. The Congress of the People (Cope), formed by politicians who broke from the ruling party, stood at 7.42 per cent. The DA will get 67 seats in parliament and Cope 30. Support for the Inkatha Freedom Party waned to 4.56 per cent, down from 6.97 per cent in 2004, giving it 18 seats. The ANC also made inroads into the IFP's traditional support base in KwaZulu-Natal province, home to South Africa's Zulus, the biggest tribal group, of which Mr Zuma is a member. Electoral officials said that the turnout was 77.3 per cent, a little higher than in 2004.

Mr Zuma's supporters have been celebrating since shortly after the voting ended on Wednesday, as his party's victory had not been seriously in doubt. The ANC views Mr Zuma as the first leader who can energise voters since Nelson Mandela. But others say he is too beholden to unions and left-wingers.

At the end of the campaign, Mr Zuma was talking not about creating jobs, but staving off job losses. His personal charisma and rise from poverty to political prominence have drawn adoring crowds throughout the election campaign, although critics question whether he can implement his populist agenda amid the global economic meltdown.

Sport
Alexis Sanchez has completed a £35m move to Arsenal, the club have confirmed
sportGunners complete £35m signing of Barcelona forward
Life and Style
A binge is classed as four or more alcoholic drinks for women and five or more for men, consumed over a roughly two-hour period
tech
News
Detail of the dress made entirely of loom bands
news
Life and Style
More than half of young adults have engaged in 'unwanted but consensual sexting with a committed partner,' according to research
techResearchers recover 100s of nude photos from second-hand smartphones
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
It beggars belief: the homeless and hungry are weary, tortured, ghosts of people – with bodies contorted by imperceptible pain
lifeRough sleepers exist in every city. Hear the stories of those whose luck has run out
Life and Style
fashionJ Crew introduces triple zero size to meet the Asia market demand
Sport
Santi Cazorla, Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini of Arsenal launch the new Puma Arsenal kits at the Puma Store on Carnaby Street
sportMassive deal worth £150m over the next five years
Arts and Entertainment
Welsh opera singer Katherine Jenkins
musicHolyrood MPs 'staggered' at lack of Scottish artists performing
Life and Style
beautyBelgian fan lands L'Oreal campaign after being spotted at World Cup
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Head of Digital Marketing,London

To £58k Contract 12 months: Charter Selection: Major household name charity se...

Network Support Engineer / Junior Test Analyst

£23000 - £27000 per annum: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: A market leading, in...

Key Account Manager, Medical

£35000 per annum, Benefits: Excellent commission structure + Car: Charter Sele...

Key Account Manager, Medical

£35000 per annum, Benefits: Excellent commission structure + Car: Charter Sele...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice