Early projections show the ruling party will likely keep over 60% of SA's support. But it won't get a two-thirds majority in Parliament.
The ANC will keep Gauteng and remain above the psychologically important 60% mark in the national elections – but will fall short of the constitutionally important two-thirds majority nationally.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) will keep the Western Cape comfortably and will increase its share of the national vote to above 20%, but will not be able to say a quarter of South Africans supported it.
In its heartland of Limpopo, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) will have to work with a dominant ANC, with just under 80% of the seats in the provincial legislature going to the ruling party. But the EFF will beat out all the other incumbents to come in third nationally – and will have enough National Assembly seats to make trouble in key committees.
And in KwaZulu-Natal, the Inkatha Freedom Party will see a humiliating decline, quite possibly seeing the DA supplant it as the official opposition to ANC in that province.
That was the picture emerging on Thursday as the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) published the counts for about half of the voting districts in the 2014 national and provincial elections.
Historically, the total count for each party has not come close to the actual result, with less than 75% of votes counted. That milestone will be reached during the course of Thursday or Friday, depending on the number of objections lodged with the IEC during the counting and reconciliation process. A formal announcement on the election results will likely be made on Saturday, although that too is subject to any contestations.
But models that have proven accurate both in the past and against the 2014 count were by Thursday morning giving glimpses into what the next five years could hold for South Africa.
The extrapolated results – which could be utterly demolished by unexpected swings in large metropolitan areas – painted an unsurprising picture, with no major shifts in the current balance of power.
If the predictions hold, the ANC will continue to dominate Parliament, but would need the support of virtually every smaller party, or just the EFF, to make changes to the Constitution, which requires a two-thirds majority. The DA and the EFF, meanwhile, would be unable to block such changes on their own, and would also require smaller parties to join them to reach a third of the total votes in Parliament.
But should the EFF throw its new-found weight behind its stated mortal enemies, the ANC, the two parties would stand unchallenged in the national legislature.
With counts from populous urban centres still outstanding, it was unclear whether the number of spoilt votes would be significant, but voter turnout will likely be above 70%, though well below the 77% of the 2009 elections.