New Government | That’s the way to the first session

Henry

By Africa Check

The election is over, with no party having achieved an absolute majority. What will the composition of the parliament look like from now on? What exactly is a coalition government? And what happens if parties cannot agree on the way forward?

This is how seats in the National Assembly are allocated

Political parties receive seats in parliament in direct proportion to the number of votes they received in the election.

The 2024 election included a regional ballot, which allowed independent candidates to contest the election for the very first time. The results of the regional votes are included in the calculation of seats in terms of a complicated formula.

Based on the calculation, the 400 seats in the parliament are divided between 18 parties. No independent candidate obtained enough votes to get a seat.

The parties fill these seats according to their own candidate lists. The lists were handed over on Thursday to Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, the country’s most senior judge of the Constitutional Court and the head of the judiciary in South Africa.

Allocation of seats

Seats allocated; what now?

Candidates are sworn in as members of parliament during the first session of the national assembly which must take place within 14 days after the election results are announced. The deadline is determined in the Constitution.

This means that the first session of the NA must take place before or on 17 June. At the first session, the MPs must elect a speaker, a deputy speaker and of course a president.

The presidential election is conducted in terms of a call for nominations. If there is more than one candidate, a secret ballot is held and each MP may vote.

According to Lawson Naidoo, executive secretary of the Council for the Promotion of the South African Constitution (Sacac), there will probably be more than one candidate – even if it is only a symbolic nomination.

Bat in pigeonhole?

The uMkhonto weSizwe Party (MKP), which was launched in December, won 14.6% of the vote in its first election. However, the party rejected the election results and threatened to boycott the first NA session.

A quorum is the minimum number of members of a group that must be present at a meeting. For the NV, the quorum is one third, i.e. 133 members.

The MKP has 58 seats in the national assembly. Should all its MPs boycott the first session, there will still be 342 MPs left, which is more than enough for a quorum.

The ANC on its own also has enough seats – 159 – to achieve a quorum and continue with the first session.

deadline

The Constitution gives only one possibility for when the 14-day deadline for the election of a president may be extended: when two candidates get exactly the same amount of votes, another session must be held within seven days.

Coalition government

A coalition government exists when two or more political parties combine their votes to form a government.

The ANC no longer has an absolute majority in the NV and now needs the support of other parties. Discussions about this are currently underway.

There is also no prescribed formula for putting together a coalition government. Under ideal circumstances, the relevant political parties will enter into a partnership before the first session of the NA. But a final coalition agreement does not have to be ready by then.

Political parties can enter into preliminary agreements on, for example, which candidate to nominate for president, while coalition talks can continue even after the first session.

Minority government?

A minority government exists when the ruling party does not have enough of a majority of seats in parliament. In these circumstances, it is difficult to pass legislation.

If he cannot form a coalition, the ANC may consider forming a minority government. The party can then enter into agreements with other political parties to agree on important issues, such as a budget, but will have to gather support for whatever legislation it tries to pass.

Government of national unity

However, the ANC announced on Thursday evening that it has decided in favor of a government of national unity (GNE) and that different political parties are now being approached to form part of it.

  • This report originally appeared on Africa Check and is used with permission.