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South Africans Begin Voting In An Election Seen As Their Country’s Most Important In 30 Years

The election will be held on one day across South Africa’s nine provinces, with nearly 28 million people registered to vote at more than 23,000 polling stations. Final results are expected by Sunday.

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South Africans began voting Wednesday in an election seen as their country’s most important in 30 years, and one that could put their young democracy in unknown territory.

At stake is the three-decade dominance of the African National Congress party, which led South Africa out of apartheid’s brutal white minority rule in 1994. It is now the target of a new generation of discontent in a country of 62 million people — half of whom are estimated to be living in poverty.

Africa’s most advanced economy has some of the world’s deepest socioeconomic problems, including one of the worst unemployment rates at 32%.

The lingering inequality, with poverty and joblessness disproportionately affecting the Black majority, threatens to unseat the party that promised to end it by bringing down apartheid under the slogan of a better life for all.

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Any change in the ANC’s hold on power could be monumental for South Africa. If it does lose its majority, the ANC will likely face the prospect of having to form a coalition with others to stay in government and keep South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, the leader of the ANC, in power. An ANC having to co-govern has never happened before.

The election will be held on one day across South Africa’s nine provinces, with nearly 28 million people registered to vote at more than 23,000 polling stations. Final results are expected by Sunday.

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