Why every vote really does count | Fin24

Why every vote really does count

Aug 03 2016 08:36
Alec Hogg

Pretoria - During South Africa’s transition to democracy, those handing over power negotiated hard for an electoral system based on proportional representation. As a result, even at the local level only half the seats in municipal councils are directly contested – the other half get allocated according to each party’s share of the total votes.

In SA’s eight metropolitan municipalities where 38% of its population live, the 2011 municipal elections were contested in 709 wards. The ANC candidate prevailed in 449 (63%) of them and the DA in 251 (35%). Only eight of the wards (1%) were won by someone from outside these two parties. But of 1 415 council seats in the eight metros, the ANC filled 794 (56%); the DA 507 (36%) and other parties a disproportionate 114 (8%).

With the emerging EFF eating away ANC votes and the DA continuing to gather momentum, the system is suddenly extremely relevant. Even though most fringe parties won’t win a single ward, they could still hold the balance of power in a number of municipalities.

In this electoral system, every vote really does count. So even if your local ward is set to be comfortably won by the party you favour, staying away cannot be an option.

Democracy only works when citizens participate. In today’s election, in today’s South Africa, more than ever.

2011 Municipalities Election results

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