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South African Election Update

For weeks, polls had indicated that Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress party would win a decisive victory in the country’s second-ever all-race elections yesterday, but the victory now appears big enough to grant ANC power to single-handedly amend the South African Constitution if it wishes.

The South African Broadcasting Corp. has projected the ANC will claim at least a two-thirds majority of the next parliament would give the party almost unilateral power.

Nelson Mandela will step down as the country’s president and turn power over to his deputy, Thabo Mbeki, on June 16.

Mbeki is a life-long ANC activist, saying he was “born into the struggle.” He has supported the ANC during its time as an underground political force and during the last five years as the ruling party.

“In their millions, and without equivocation, the people of South Africa have renewed the mandate of the ANC to govern our country,” Mbeki said in a victory speech. He promised to move quickly to the ease the plight of the country’s millions of poor blacks.

The Democratic Party, led by Tony Leon, is in second, according to reported voting returns. Founded in the 1980s as an anti-apartheid party supported strongly by whites, the Democratic Party is predicted unseat the current opposition party, the New National Party, which has garnered approximately 7 percent.

The New National Party promotes itself as the party that initiated democratic change in the country, but most blacks still remember it as the National Party that ruled South Africa for 46 years and imposed the apartheid system.

Mandela has announced a vacation and wants to allow a smooth transition in leadership.