Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Election Fever

Cape Town’s local elections are on May 18, and I’m finding myself getting wrapped up in the politics of it all.

As I mentioned before, the Western Cape is a political anomaly—The Democratic Alliance (DA) controls this province, not the African National Congress (ANC), which has its stronghold in Guateng Province (where Johannesburg is) and much of the rest of the country.

Capetonians will vote for a mayor next month, and there have been some interesting developments as candidates are announced. (Or not announced—on ballots here, you vote for a party, not an individual, and the ANC usually doesn’t announce its individual candidates until after an election.)

Another interesting (to me) facet of the ANC is its relationship to COSATU, a trade union alliance. Since democracy came to South Africa, COSATU (and SACP) has functioned, at times, as a branch or bureau of the ANC—and sometimes as an opposition party. (I found this book helpful when I researched COSATU for a class.)

In the last few months it seemed clear that the ANC would again lose in the Western Cape. Until! COSATU put forward its own candidate for mayor, Tony Ehrenreich, who seemed like he could carry the vote. Today, the ANC also endorsed Ehenreich as its candidate.

The Cape Times reported today that if the DA slips just three percentage points in the election, they will lose control of the province.


Personally, as someone without citizenship and who cannot vote in this election, I’m a bit surprised at how much fun I’m having following these events. While I still subscribe to CNN alerts via e-mail and am planning to vote absentee in every election in the US, I’ve been more than relieved to miss out on the political news cycles from home. The Cape Times did announce Obama’s bid for re-election last week, and seemed supportive of him. (I seem to remember phrases like “the fickle American people” and “worthy of a second term.”) This blog is neutral (GOBAMA! GOBAMA! Whoops.), or at least this blogger is happy to be free of American pundits and fake news channels for the time being.

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