Civic joy in South Africa’s vote

Thirty years after South Africa ended its violent system of racial segregation called apartheid through peaceful elections, it may be poised for another watershed moment: a transition from one-party rule to pluralism and power-sharing.

For the first time in three decades, the ruling African National Congress (ANC) may lose its majority in elections later this month. Voters are deeply frustrated by persistently high levels of corruption, crime, inequality, and unemployment. Just 16% of South Africans ages 18 to 24 express optimism about the future, according to a survey released this week by the Ichikowitz Family Foundation.

Discontentment, however, has not led to disengagement. Just the opposite. According to the Electoral Commission of South Africa, the May 29 election will include 31 new political parties. More than half of the nearly 15,000 candidates for local and national office are under the age of 50. Four in 10 are female. Fifteen candidates have only just reached the minimum voter age of 18.

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