Election 2019: Unraveling Parliamentary seating order

File: Various South African political leaders present in the National Assembly.

File: Various South African political leaders present in the National Assembly.

JOHANNESBURG - Opinion polls suggest the ANC will again win a majority of the parliament's 400 seats.

But analysts say its margin of victory may fall amid frustration with slow progress addressing racial disparities in income and wealth.

But just how does the Electoral Commission decide how many seats each party receives in the National Assembly and the Provincial Legislature?

Here is a brief explainer to help you understand how the democratic process works:

Deciding the total number of seats each party receives in Parliament

There is a total of 400 seats in the National Assembly which are split in half between the national and regional candidate lists. That is the amount of MPs who serve in Parliament over a period of five years.

Prior to election day, IEC data suggested 26,756,649 registered voters would take part in both the national and provincial ballot, but expected a voter turnout of 71 percent.

Assuming the majority of the national vote is awarded to five established parties, the outcome could reflect something similar to this:

  • Party A: 2 398 000
  • Party B: 4 965 000
  • Party C: 9 700 000
  • Party D: 47 000
  • Party E: 1 490 000
     

The “quota” system

In order to translate these numbers into Parliamentary seats, IEC officials will have divide the total number of votes -- 18.7 million in this case -- by the number of Parliamentary seats – 400 -- in order to generate a “quota”.

Once the quota has been established, officials divide it by the number of votes each party has received.

However, for the sake of ensuring the votes are fairly reflected, an additional seat is added to the total number of Parliamentary seats.

The official calculation will therefore looks like this:

Overall national calculation (400) - Total party seats

Overall national calculation (400) - Total party seats

IEC

Each party must receive the standard amount of votes as set out by the quota in order to gain one seat in Parliament.

In the case of the above sum, the quota is 46,634 votes. So, Party D, for example, would be able to place only one MP in Parliament with 47,000 votes, while Party A would be able to place 51 MPs in Parliament with 2,398,000 votes.

Simply put, adding the additional one seat to the total 400 seats means that an extra seat is left open after doing the division.

With 399 seats filled, the final one goes to the party with the “highest remainder” once their total national votes have been divided by the quota.

With 399 seats filled up, the final one goes to the party with the “highest remainder” once their total national votes have been divided by the quota.

With 399 seats filled up, the final one goes to the party with the “highest remainder” once their total national votes have been divided by the quota.

eNCA

In this example, Party E has the largest remainder and henceforth receives the final seat.

Regional list seat calculation

As mentioned before, there is a total number of 400 seats in the National Assembly which are split in half between both the national and regional candidate lists.

Before the election, the 200 regional seats are divided between South Africa’s nine separate regions based on the registered population in each.

For example:

  • Eastern Cape: 25
  • Mpumalanga: 15
  • Free State: 11
  • North West: 13
  • Gauteng: 48
  • Northern Cape: 5
  • KwaZulu-Natal: 41
  • Western Cape: 23
  • Limpopo: 19

Assuming the majority of the regional vote is awarded to five established parties, the outcome could reflect something similar to this in Gauteng, for example:

  • Party A: 1 350 000
  • Party B: 935 000
  • Party C: 3 560 000
  • Party D: 45 000
  • Party E: 490 000

In order to translate these numbers into Parliamentary seats, IEC officials will have divide the total number of votes received -- 6,380,000 in this case -- by the number of regional Parliamentary seats – 48 in Gauteng’s case -- in order to generate a “quota”.

However, for the sake of ensuring the votes are fairly reflected, an additional seat is added to the total number of Parliamentary seats for each region.

The official calculation will therefore looks like this:

For the sake of ensuring the votes are fairly reflected, an additional seat is added to the total number of Parliamentary seats for each region.

For the sake of ensuring the votes are fairly reflected, an additional seat is added to the total number of Parliamentary seats for each region.

IEC

Each party must receive the standard amount of votes as set out by the quota for each specific region in order to gain one regional seat in Parliament.

In the case of the above sum, the regional quota for Gauteng is 130,205 votes.

So, Party D, for example, would be unable to place a Gauteng MP in Parliament with only 45,000 votes, while Party C would be able to place 27 Gauteng MPs in Parliament with 3,560,000 votes.

Simply put, adding the additional one seat to the total number of regional seats means that an extra seat is left open after doing the division.

With 47 of Gauteng’s seats filled up, the final one goes to the party with the “highest remainder” once their total votes in Gauteng have been divided by the quota belonging to that specific region.

With 47 of Gauteng’s seats filled up, the final one goes to the party with the “highest remainder” once their total votes in Gauteng have been divided by the quota belonging to that specific region.

With 47 of Gauteng’s seats filled up, the final one goes to the party with the “highest remainder” once their total votes in Gauteng have been divided by the quota belonging to that specific region.

IEC

In this case, Party E has the largest remainder and henceforth receives the final seat in the Gauteng provincial legislature.

National list seats

National list seats are calculated by subtracting all the regional list seats for a party from the total party seats for that party.
 

Calculating national list seats

Calculating national list seats

IEC
Source
eNCA