Punch-drunk DA retains George ward by a whisker

Staff Writer | Jul 19, 2019
The Official Opposition has fought off an assault by Patricia de Lille’s GOOD Party – but only just.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) won a by-election in George by the proverbial skin of its teeth, with a margin of only eight out of 2 245 votes cast.

The by-election followed the defection of incumbent DA councillor Mercia Draghoender to GOOD. She was GOOD’s candidate for the ward and came very close to retaining her position as ward representative.

In the 2016 local government election, the DA had won the ward with just under 50%. The African National Congress (ANC) was the second-biggest party in the ward in 2016, with 30% of the vote.

However, in Wednesday’s by-election, the DA’s vote share dropped to 32.6% (731 votes), with GOOD winning 32.2% (723 votes), a hair’s breadth away from a major upset. The balance of the votes was shared between the ANC, the Plaaslike Besorgde Inwoners, the Economic Freedom Fighters, and African Covenant.

Surprisingly for a by-election, the turnout was higher in Wednesday’s poll than in 2016’s municipal election in the ward. This may indicate high levels of dissatisfaction with the DA in the ward, which were also reflected in the party’s narrow victory.

This poll will be a cause of major concern for the DA. The DA seems to be losing support among white Afrikaners and its narrow victory in this ward could indicate that its coloured support is also under threat. The ward has a large coloured majority, with coloured people accounting for nearly 90% of residents. The result suggests the DA might face a battle on two fronts in the 2021 municipal election – from the Freedom Front Plus on the one hand, which might attract white Afrikaners, and from GOOD, which clearly has some level of appeal among coloured South Africans.


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