South Africa votes in fourth general elections since apartheid

April 22nd, 2009 - 12:28 pm ICT by IANS  

Johannesburg, April 22 (DPA) South Africans began voting Wednesday in the country’s fourth general elections since the end of apartheid.
A little over 23 million people are registered to vote in elections to the 400-seat National Assembly and nine provincial legislatures, 2.4 million more than in the 2004 elections.

The emergence of a new party, the Congress of the People (COPE), from a split in the ANC last year has made these the most exciting since the first euphoric multi-racial elections in 1994.

The ANC, which enjoys a high degree of loyalty among the black majority, is expected to easily win the election but could see its more-than-two-thirds majority reduced.

A poll conducted among 3,531 respondents in late February and early March gave the ANC 67 percent, against 13 percent for the official opposition Democratic Alliance and 11 percent for COPE. One in ten voters was still undecided. The margin of error was 0.72 percent and 1.66 percent.

Voting got underway at 19,726 polling stations nationwide at 7 a.m. and was due to close at 9 p.m.

Thousands of expatriate South Africans already cast their ballot last week.

Final results are not expected for two days.

South Africa has a proportional representation system, which means voters vote for a party rather than a candidate. Seats in parliament are then distributed according to each party’s tally. Parliament then sits to elect the president.

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