Over the past few months, I’m sure you have heard plenty about ‘wasted votes’.
The bigger parties would have you believe that voting for a smaller party is akin to a dereliction of duty, whilst the smaller parties talk up the influence they can have once they have elected members of Parliament (MPs).
Ultimately, to have any influence at all, these smaller parties actually need to garner enough votes to get one of the 400 seats in the National Assembly.
Before you go any further, a reminder that you can see the live election results (both national and provincial) here.
In order to work out how many votes are necessary to crack the MP spot, BusinessTech crunched the numbers:
Using basic math, with 400 seats in parliament available, to earn a single seat for an MP a party would have to secure 0.25% of the total vote.
With 26.7 million registered voters for 2019, and an estimated turnout of 70%, this means a party would need about 46,725 votes to get a seat at the table.
Seems simple enough, but as we know all too well with South African politics, nothing is ever as straightforward as that.
Back in 2014, one seat in the National Assembly represented 45 892 votes, although falling shy of that doesn’t necessarily mean that a seat won’t be taken.
For that insight, we go to Constitutional law expert Pierre de Vos, writing on his blog, Constitutionally Speaking:
A party needs about 40 000 to 45 000 votes for every seat allocated to it in the NA, although the complicated formula used to calculate the seats provides a slight advantage to very small parties vying for only 1 seat. Such a party may get that 1 seat with as little as 30 000 to 35 000 votes.
If a party does not get the minimum of about 35 000 votes nationally, it does not get a seat in the NA and all the votes cast for that party are wasted votes.
There are those two words again – “wasted votes”.
Pierre states that he would not consider voting for a party that he doesn’t think could muster at least 35 000 national votes.
By the way, just getting a seat in the National Assembly as an MP brings with it a cracking payday – a member of the National Assembly will earn R1 106 940 a year, or R92 250 per month.
That’s before all the travel allowances and other perks that come with it, too.
While we’re skimming through Pierre’s blog, we should also cast our eyes forward to what happens once the final election results are announced, which should occur at some point on Saturday:
It is very likely that the African National Congress (ANC) will win an outright majority in the national election and will be allocated more than 200 of the 400 seats in the NA. (The ANC currently has 249 seats (down from 264 seats in the previous election.)
If the ANC wins more than 200 seats in the NA, the elections in the NA for speaker and President will be a formality as the ANC MPs will merely rubber stamp the candidates nominated by the ANC NEC. It is only where no party gains an overall majority in the NA (not likely) that the ANC would have to make a deal with smaller parties or with either the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) or the Democratic Alliance (DA) to secure support for its candidates for speaker and for president.
Given that the ANC currently has just shy of 55% of the national vote, with 47% of the vote counted and many more rural voting stations still to come on, those 200 seats are a shoo-in.
Of course, even once Cyril Ramaphosa and his ANC pals put on a brave face about securing that majority, the battle for the heart of the party rages on.
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