The May 8 poll made for a bruising electoral contest — for SA’s two biggest political parties, at least. The ANC’s national support dropped below 60% for the first time since 1994, and the opposition DA secured 20.77% — down from 22.2% in 2014. For others, such as the EFF, IFP and Freedom Front Plus (FF Plus), the election was a success. The EFF increased its share of the vote to 10.8%, the IFP to 3.38% and the FF Plus to 2.38%. But to put this in context: of the 26.8-million South Africans registered to vote, 65.99% turned out on the day. That means about 9-million registered voters decided not to vote. And that’s not counting the roughly 9-million of an estimated 35.8-million eligible voters (the voting-age population, or VAP) who did not register for the polls. In all, it makes for about 18-million uncast votes: a significant proportion when one considers the ANC’s 57% mandate hinges on 10-million votes. It’s further evidence of a general downward trend in voter participation in ...

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