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South Africa’s ruling party leads in high-turnout election

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JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA – After one of the highest voter turnouts in South Africa’s history, second only to that of the 1994 election that ended apartheid, early vote counting shows the African National Congress almost certain to hold onto power.

By mid-afternoon, with 7.2 million of the estimated 23 million votes counted, the ANC held a firm lead with 66 percent of the vote. The Democratic Alliance (DA), a white liberal party based in the Western Cape, came in a distant second with 16.7 percent. The Congress of the People (COPE), a split-away party of former ANC members, came in third with 8 percent.

The votes counted thus far are primarily from urban areas where the DA is at its strongest, so the vote tallies for the ANC and COPE may increase as results stream in from more distant rural areas and dense urban townships, where the two parties are highly competitive.

The sheer number of voters, which left many polling stations unable to hand out ballot papers in the waning hours of the election, is a product of a highly politicized environment in South Africa’s liberation movement, where two main factions fought for control of the ANC – splitting the party in two.


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