South Africa's ruling party sees power weakened for first time in 30 years

South Africa's ruling African National Congress (ANC) has lost its parliamentary majority for the first time since democratic elections began, with early results from this week's vote showing a dramatic drop in support for the party that led the country out of apartheid.

Results were not yet final but with nearly all votes counted by Saturday afternoon, the ANC had just over 40 percent.

It is a sharp drop from the almost 58 percent it secured at the last election in 2019, and short of a majority for the first time since the end of white minority rule in 1994.

With the last votes still being tallied, the ANC was still the largest party by some way – but without a majority, it will have to negotiate a coalition with smaller partners to continue to govern.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa will likely face calls to quit, though there are no obvious ANC candidates to succeed him.

The public vote decides South Africa's parliament, with lawmakers responsible for choosing a president. Without a parliamentary majority, the ANC will have to rely on support from other parties' MPs to re-elect Ramaphosa for a second term.

The ANC is now set for a flurry of negotiations with its opponents.

Opposition leaders hailed the historic political shift as a much-needed change.

The ANC retains the loyalty of many voters for its leading role in overthrowing white minority rule, and its social welfare and economic empowerment policies are credited by supporters with helping millions of black households out of poverty.

(with newswires)

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