The ANC may have to lean on a smaller party to govern the country after this year’s election and the EFF could unseat the DA to become the official opposition party.
This is according to one of the scenarios of the latest Ipsos' poll.
The poll was conducted face-to-face from October 23 to December 1, 2023 that aimed to gauge the political pulse of the country.
Notably, this poll data precedes the establishment of the uMkhonto we Sizwe party by former president Jacob Zuma on December 16, 2023, suggesting its impact is yet to be measured.
Ipsos is one of the largest market research companies in the world, present in 90 markets and employing more than 18,000 people.
Utilising a mock ballot paper process to ensure voter confidentiality, the survey offers insights into the electorate's preferences, although it excludes parties not significant by past electoral metrics.
One of the key questions posed was: “If there were National [or Provincial] elections tomorrow, which political party would you vote for?”
One of the scenarios of the findings suggest a marginal lead for the Economic Freedom Fighters (18.6%) over the Democratic Alliance (17.3%), hinting at a potential shift in the official opposition status. Under this scenario, the African National Congress receives 38.5% of the vote, the Inkatha Freedom Party, 3.6% and Action SA 3.4% of the vote.
However, a critical analysis reveals that 10.1% of respondents remain undecided, refusing to vote or to disclose their preference.
This "undecided vote" Ispos warns, poses a significant challenge in predicting the election's outcome, emphasising the need for a deeper understanding of voter sentiment.
Another scenario indicates that the ANC’s support has dipped below 50% with 40.5% of the vote, with the DA regaining ground with 20.5% of the vote as the official opposition and the EFF continuing to challenge this position with 19.6% of the vote.
Regional support varies, with the IFP drawing strength from KwaZulu-Natal and Action SA making inroads in Gauteng.
The Multi-party Charter for South Africa also emerges as a potential contender, drawing approximately 33% of the vote in this early stage.
However, Ispos has cautioned against viewing these results as definitive election predictions.
The final outcome will likely be influenced by a myriad of factors, including campaign dynamics, socio-economic shifts, and the state of essential services.
Voter turnout, especially, is a critical variable, with current models suggesting varying scenarios that could significantly impact the election's dynamics.
The possibility of a national-level coalition government looms, with the ANC potentially needing a minor party to secure a majority.
As South Africa inches closer to its 2024 National and Provincial elections, a recent Ipsos poll has shed light on the political climate, revealing a significant portion of the electorate remains unaligned with any political party.
The results come on the back of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) confirming a record number of political parties registered for the upcoming elections, the landscape is ripe for voter choice.
Yet, approximately 35% of registered voters feel no political party truly represents their views, casting a shadow of uncertainty and apprehension over the electoral prospects.
The anticipation grows as President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to announce the official election date during Thursday's Parliament opening ceremony. This announcement comes at a crucial time, with the IEC pushing for increased voter registration, a move that saw another special registration weekend on February 3rd and 4th.
Despite these efforts, only about 64% of eligible South Africans are registered to vote, highlighting a potential crisis of democratic engagement.