South African Elections: Landslide question

HOW CERTAIN is the ANC of victory when South Africans of all races vote for the first time? Although it was originally forecast to win 70 per cent of the vote, some analysts believe the final ANC score will be considerably smaller, writes John Lichfield.

A couple have even predicted that difficulties in getting out the rural vote, and a rash of accidentally spoiled papers, could bring the ANC total below 50 per cent. This would theoretically open the possibility of the new government being formed by an anti- ANC coalition of Inkatha and white-dominated parties. However, the rough consensus is that the ANC will score around 55 per cent.

Publication of opinion polls has been banned in the final three weeks of the campaign. The last one gave the ANC around 63 per cent, but polling in South Africa is an even more dubious science than usual: 70 per cent of electors have never voted before, and two thirds of black voters are illiterate.

Using their own formulas, two of South Africa's foremost political analysts have come up with the following forecasts:

Professor Lawrence Schlemmer: ANC 53-57 per cent; National Party 26-30; Inkatha 6-8; Freedom Front 4; Democratic Party 4. Professor Herman Gilliomee: ANC 56- 60 per cent; NP 23-27; IFP 7- 10; DP 4-6; FF 4.

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