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A voter casts his ballot at a polling station, during the South Africa's parliamentary and provincial elections in Soweto, Johannesburg, South Africa, on May 8, 2019. Photo by Mike Hutchings/Reuters

South Africa’s ruling ANC party holds lead in national election

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — South Africa’s ruling African National Congress had a comfortable lead with nearly half of national election votes counted but much lower support than it received during the last parliamentary and presidential contests.

Corruption allegations from opposition parties appeared to have hurt the governing party.

With returns from 46% of South Africa’s voting districts tallied, the ANC had 57% of the vote, according to results announced by the electoral commission. The party won 62% of the vote in the 2014 election.

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The opposition Democratic Alliance, which vigorously campaigned on the corruption issue, was holding on to its position as the largest opposition party. It had 23% of the vote, about the same share it received previously.

The populist, leftist Economic Freedom Fighters also made official graft one of its main campaign issues and increased its share of Wednesday’s vote to just over 9%.

More than 40 smaller parties also are vying for power.

Neither South Africa’s president nor the parliament is elected directly. Voters cast ballots for a national party and the number of votes won by each party determines how many representatives are sent to the legislature. The president is the leader of the party that gets the most votes.

Voter disillusionment appears to have affected turnout at the polls; it dropped to 65% compared to 74% in 2014.

Electoral officials say a tally from 90% of the vote may be announced later Thursday, although final results may not be announced until Saturday.

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