Factbox: The main political parties in South Africa's election
AFRICAN NATIONAL CONGRESSThe ANC swept to power in 1994 under liberation hero Nelson Mandela, who became South Africa’s first black president after leading the fight against the brutal apartheid regime. It has been the majority party in the National Assembly for the past 25 years and currently governs every province apart from the Western Cape. Many black South Africans grew up associating the ANC with their dream of a country free from racial segregation and with equal access to jobs and education.
DEMOCRATIC ALLIANCEThe DA won 22 percent of the parliamentary vote in 2014, giving it the second biggest number of seats in the National Assembly. It traces its roots back to the Progressive Party, a group formed by white liberals who opposed apartheid, and has grown partly by merging with other parties. In 2015 the DA appointed its first black leader, Mmusi Maimane, to broaden its appeal and improved its national standing by leading coalition victories in local government elections in metropolitan areas like Johannesburg a year later. But some analysts say it has lost its way since reaching what is considered its highest political milestone, and some polls show that its support could wane. Last year the DA became embroiled in a bitter dispute with one of its most prominent politicians, former Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille. De Lille has a strong following in the Western Cape and left the DA to form her own party, which could dent the DA’s support. Some political commentators say Ramaphosa appeals to part of the DA’s support base, the middle class and business owners who favor market-friendly policies.
ECONOMIC FREEDOM FIGHTERSThe EFF won 6 percent of the vote in 2014, making it the third-largest party in parliament. Some polls show the party almost doubling its vote share this time around. Known for its far-left policies including plans to nationalize mines, the party punches above its weight on the political scene. It played a key role in holding Zuma to account for spending state money on non-security upgrades to his private residence and has shaped the debate on land expropriation without compensation, a policy the ANC has said it intends to carry out in due course. The EFF is led by Julius Malema, a fiery orator who formed the party in 2013 after he was expelled from the ANC, where he headed the party’s youth wing. His political rhetoric appeals to mainly younger black voters who are disillusioned with 25 years of ANC rule. The EFF, whose lawmakers often dress in red overalls and plastic hard hats to show their allegiance to the working class, emerged as a kingmaker in 2016 elections in metropolitan areas like the administrative capital Pretoria and commercial capital Johannesburg, where it backed DA candidates.
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