The South African Election of 2009

Roger Southall, John Daniel


South Africans voted in their country’s fourth democratic general election on 22 April 2009. The African National Congress (ANC) again secured a substantial victory. It might seem that the 2009 Elections proved to be “business as usual”. Yet such a conclusion is unjustified, for events had conspired to generate excitement about this particular contest, which rivalled that leading up to the “liberation election” of 1994. The reasons for this were several, but the most important revolved around Jacob Zuma, who had risen to the presidency of the ANC in December 2007, and the formation of a new party of opposition, the Congress of the People (COPE), by dissidents from within the ANC. In the elections, however, the ANC reasserted its dominance. Even so, the results of the 2009 election at national and provincial level indicate change. The ANC has maintained its electoral dominance, yet its grip on the electorate has been somewhat weakened, while the opposition – although remaining very much in the minority – has consolidated.

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