South African voters choose a political party on separate national and provincial ballots. Traditionally most vote for the same party at both levels. However, in recent elections there is evidence to suggest that SA voters increasingly support different parties at the two levels of government.
Early CSIR predictions suggest that voters in 2019 have been strategic in their choices about which party to support across national and provincial government, with many choosing to split their votes. This is a clear indication of a weakening political party identification among voters, an increased focus on specific candidates like President Cyril Ramaphosa, and a conscious effort to balance national and provincial priorities and key issues.
Gauteng voters gave the ANC 52.1% on their national ballot but only 49.2% on their provincial ballot, opting to rather support one of the many smaller parties for provincial government.
Western Cape voters show a similar pattern. On the national ballot the DA get 53% while the provincial ballot shows 56% – a clear indication that DA voters in the Western Cape opted to support other parties at national level.
The CSIR estimates suggest this amounted to an endorsement of Cyril Ramaphosa, the New Dawn ANC at national level, whilst opting to secure the DA’s rule in the Western Cape. The Western Cape national ballot shows 30.3% for the ANC while the provincial ballot shows only 28% for the ANC.
Post-election surveys find that voters increasing like to use split voting as a strategic method at the polls – in the 2004 election 3% of respondents declared that they had split their vote – by the 2014 election this had increased slightly to 6%. The 2009 provincial results showed the greatest tendency towards split voting in KwaZulu-Natal and Western Cape. – Collette Schulz Herzenberg