Thu. Jan 21st, 2021

2019 Elections: How is the president elected in South Africa?

How is the president elected in south africa 2019 electionsFrom casting the vote to announcing a winner, we’ve got the essential guide on how a president is elected in South Africa ahead of the 2019 Elections.

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Not long now, everybody. Next Wednesday, we’ll be heading to the polls and submitting our votes in the 2019 Elections, which have been dubbed as “the most important since 1994“. But how exactly do we end up with a president?

It’s a question that is frequently asked by curious outsiders to the South African political scene. We’ve had a quick recap of the voting procedure, the system we use and the amount of Parliamentary seats needed to appoint a new leader.

2019 Elections: How the President is elected in South Africa

How do South Africans go and vote?

On Wednesday 8 May, all registered voters will have the chance to go and make their voices heard at the ballot boxes. The process is far from complicated, but there are a few nuances: In a general election, voters must choose the party they want to vote for, rather than an individual candidate.

Thousands of dedicated voting centres will be set up and the day is declared a public holiday. Venues like schools and community halls will become bustling hives of activity as they open their doors to willing voters.

Each person is granted anonymity with their vote, and they are able to mark their cards and drop them in the boxes secretly. Some voting stations will be open as early as 7:00, before closing as late as 21:00. From there, the votes are tallied overnight and if one party receives over 50% of the vote, they are declared the winners.

What voting system will be used in the 2019 Elections?

In SA, we use the proportional representation method. This means that all votes from across the nation are tallied up, and the amount of seats each party gets in the National Assembly is determined by their share of the vote. It’s estimated that for every 0.25% of the national vote you get, that’s equivalent to one seat in Parliament.

The political party then gets a share of seats in Parliament in direct proportion to the number of votes it got in the election. Each party then decides on members to fill the seats it has won.

So do you remember the fuss that was made over the Parliamentary lists the ANC, DA, EFF etc had to submit for the 2019 elections? Here’s where these come into play…

If a majority party takes 250 seats, for example, they will have to pick 250 candidates from their list. If a minority party earns 75 seats, they will have to pick 75 candidates from their list. In both scenarios, it’s likely that the top 250 picks for the majority and the top 75 picks for the minority will correspond with their number on the list.

How many seats does a party need for a majority in Parliament?

There are 400 seats in South Africa’s Parliament. A party can hold a majority if they secure 201 seats or more. That would translate to more than 50% of the vote.

If no-one reaches this target, they can then form a coalition with another party. If a major party only earns 175 seats, they could then pair-up with a minor party – with the equivalent of 26 seats or over – to seize control of Parliament.

Once the winner been decided on election night – usually in the early hours of the following day – the presidency will then be awarded to the leader of the successful party. They will have their inauguration ceremony two weeks later, signalling the beginning of their five-year term.

So, whether you’re an amateur on South African politics or needed a quick refresher, you can consider yourself up to speed ahead of the impending 2019 Elections!

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