It is widely recognised that the Democratic Alliance gave the African National Congress a bit of a snotklap in the Western Cape in the 2009 election. Although the DA didn’t manage to win a majority of the national vote within the provincial boundaries (although it did score over 51% of the provincial vote) it cleaned up across the board. The images below show who won most of the vote in each Western Cape municipality – the DA finished atop in all but Witzenberg, Knysna, Bitou and the Central Karoo DC, and grew in every single location. (The anomaly you see there in the southern part of the province is the Overberg DC, which only has 83 registered voters and is negligible for the purposes of this article).
In the only elections we have had since the 2009 general election – the 2011 local government elections – the DA began to grow outwards from its provincial base, as well as strengthen itself within.
The DA’s growth in the Western Cape is considerable, to the point that Marius Fransman must be employed in what is the most difficult job in South Africa (he’s tasked with winning the province back for the ANC) after presidential spokesman Mac Maharaj.
The 2014 election is likely to be another show of strength for the DA in the Western Cape. It wouldn’t be a surprise to anyone to see significant growth in the province.
But it is not the only place in the country the DA is seeing growth, and a look at other results where the party did well in 2009 compared to 2004, and then again in 2011, could give us a look into where the DA can expect to drill further into what were once considerably hefty ANC majorities.
To be more precise I looked at which municipalities swung hard away from the ANC, and which swung towards the DA. The two variables in the last two national elections I also had to take into account were the New National Party’s 2004 stint – its last – and how Congress of the People did in certain geographical centres in 2009.
As I mentioned last week, a drop in ANC support doesn’t necessarily equate to a gain for the DA. This was particularly significant in the Northern Cape where there does seem to be historical reluctance to vote for the DA, but a measurable enthusiasm to vote for a party that was not the ANC or DA.
So to find out where the DA’s future support might come from, apart from the Western Cape, I looked at the 2004 and 2009 elections to see where the largest movements away from the ANC and toward the DA were, and then used the 2011 local elections as a sort of tie-breaker, which helped filter out Cope which deflated like a cheap balloon in the two years after its praiseworthy performance in 2009. I also left out municipalities that had less than 10,000 registered voters.
That gave us 19 municipalities where the DA has been making a significant charge. And that may not sound like too much, but five of those are the City of Cape Town, City of Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, Tshwane Metro and Nelson Mandela Bay; these five metros account for nearly 7-million of the country’s 21.3-million registered voters.
The remaining 14 municipalities contest for the votes of nearly 700,000 registered voters. Again, this doesn’t sound like too much, but they are located in three distinct areas: the western and southern Northern Cape, the western side of the Eastern Cape (both of which obviously border the Western Cape), and central, south and west Gauteng. If these gains were spread out across the country it would average out to a few percentage points broadly that we would hardly notice. Instead these particular regions are showing blue gains.
The Northern Cape largely makes the consideration of this article because of the decline of the ANC, not DA gains. It was Cope in 2009 that ate into the ANC vote in this part of the country. There is potential for DA growth here, but the DA hasn’t managed to ever tap into it, as things stand, outside Hantam in the local government elections of 2011 where it won over 42% to the ANC’s 49.36% (Cope fell from 18% to 8%).
In the Gauteng regions, however, the DA stormed to large gains, taking portions of the vote directly from the ANC. And there is a reason it is throwing so much money at the province. As we’ve explained before, securing more of the Gauteng vote is significant when it comes to the provincial allocation of 200 seats in the National Assembly, and the DA saw increases in 2009 in Midvaal, Mogale City (Krugersdorp), Randfontein, Ekurhuleni, Tshwane Metro and the City of Johannesburg. To add to this region’s gains, Free State border municipality Metsimaholo (Sasolburg) joined this club. Indulge me as I give you some numbers.
The DA’s share of the vote in Midvaal saw gains of 39.95% to 43.95% between the last two general elections, consolidated with 56.21% in 2011. Mogale City grew from 18.53% in 2004 to 33.01 in the most recent local elections. Randfontein climbed from 20.18 to 35.94 over the same period. And in the two big Johannesburg metros, the DA grew from 19.21% (City of Joburg) and 19.74% (Ekuruhuleni) to 34.64% and 30.29% respectively, from 2004 to 2011. In Tshwane, the DA fell from 27.79% in 2004 to 24.9% in 2009 (8% went to Cope while the ANC held firm), but when Cope imploded the DA soared to 38.65% in the LGEs in 2011. And in Metsimaholo, in the Free State but bordering Gauteng, the DA grew from 16.78 in 2004 to 19.97 in 2009 to 34.78 in 2011.
Although the DA only secured a majority in Midvaal, it grew significantly everywhere in Gauteng except the regions that lie alongside Mpumalanga. There is a definite regional trend toward the Blue House.
The Eastern Cape requires less explaining. Compare the first image, which shows the DA’s percentage of the vote in 2004, with the second image, which shows it in 2009. The darker the colour, the larger portion of the vote.
And 2011 compounded those gains. In Camdeboo the DA won over 40% of the vote in the local elections of 2011, up from the generals: 27.6% in 2009 and 22% in 2004. In Blue Crane Route it tripled from 10.86% in 2004 to 32.94% in 2011. In Kouga it soared from 28.77% in 2004 to 48.16% in 2011. In KouKamma it performed similarly, climbing up from 15.73% in 2004 to 41.94 in 2011. And in Inxuba Yethemba its share grew from 22.95 in 2004 to 32.61 in 2011.
The two outliers here are the now infamous Tlokwe (Potchefstroom) in the North West and uMngeni (Howick) in KwaZulu-Natal. Tlokwe, if you follow politics at all, shouldn’t need an explanation (http://www.news24.com/Tags/Topics/tlokwe_leadership_battle). But for our purposes, the DA grew 16.5% in 2004 to 24% in 2009 and 36.58% in 2011. In uMngeni the party has nearly doubled in size since 2004: 21.42% in 2004, 25.6% in 2009 and 37.8% in 2009.
Of course it is not wise to predict anything specific about the 2014 general election based on 2011 local elections, because different people turn out to vote and some boundaries move and there are different variables at play. But I took the 2006 local elections into account and the DA grew in every one of these districts from 2006 to 2001, even if it spilled some in the 2009 general. This is a look at trends, rather than a prediction about what the DA will score in 2014.
I wouldn’t expect the DA’s 2011 numbers to hold up as strongly in the upcoming full general election. But such significant gains over the course of ten years by one party at the expense of another are a very noticeable shift in these particular parts of South Africa that you simply do not find elsewhere.
For the next week you can expect to see a lot of campaigning in these parts of the country, because it is where the DA has really managed to change the minds of voters. In many instances the party began tackling majorities as high at 75% held by the ANC, and in these regions it has steadily eaten into ANC dominance.
It’s not just the Western Cape. The official opposition is getting to the point where its constant and steady growth in specific geographic regions is going to tip some localities.
Keep your eyes on the Northern Cape, Gauteng, and the western half of the Eastern Cape. The statistics say so.Get our elections app in one of these app stores