South African Elections 2009 Dossier
The emergence of a ANC breakaway party, controversial leadership, the untested predictions of significant opposition gains and simmering discontent with service delivery 15 years into democracy – all in the midst of a global recession – raised the stakes of South Africa’s 4th general election. For the first time since 1994, ruling party and former liberation movement the African National Congress (ANC) while still winning a decisive victory, no longer holds a two-thirds majority in the National Assembly. In elections which drew a staggering 77% of voters to the polls, the party has witnessed its overall share of votes decline, while opposition parties shared in the spoils.In the Western Cape, historically a hotly contested province, the ANC will once again assume the role of official opposition, as it did after South Africa’s first elections.
There is no doubt that the 2009 elections were the most competitive and important since 1994. In putting to the test several features of the country’s political landscape their outcomes will play a key role in shaping the nation’s futures.
It is implications to South Africa’s political futures that contributions to this dossier – primarily put together in the weeks leading up to these historic elections – aimed to articulate and tackle. It asked questions such as: To what extent is the South African electorate ready to cast aside the ANC’s liberation legacy with their votes? Is the potential for the future rise of a viable opposition latent? What to make of the instances of political violence, intimidation and incendiary rhetoric that test the extent of South Africa’s social cohesion and political tolerance? Contributions that reassess the answers to these in the post elections landscape will be added in due course.
Alongside the numerous articles on the political background to South Africa’s 2009 polls, we hope that the collection of original contributions included here provide an accessible survey of the issues which shaped South Africa’s 2009 elections.