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What’s Next for South Africa After Voters Rebuked Its Reigning Party?

WorldWhat’s Next for South Africa After Voters Rebuked Its Reigning Party?

South Africa is headed for big change.

Precisely what that change looks like, and whether it will alleviate the many hardships that South Africans face, remains the million-dollar question.

The African National Congress, or A.N.C. — which has governed with sizable electoral majorities since the start of democracy in South Africa in 1994 — won only about 40 percent of the vote in last week’s election. The poor result means that it is now negotiating with rival parties to become partners in forming a government.

“In their desperation, I wonder what kind of choices they will make,” said Bhekindlela Cebekhulu, 40, a theater performer in Soweto.

Will South Africa have a white president soon, or might parties promoting socialism seize ownership of his home, asked Mr. Cebekhulu, who said he voted for the A.N.C. after standing in line for more than an hour. Most of all, he said, he worried about former President Jacob Zuma’s threats to change the Constitution.

The nation’s top legislative body, the National Assembly, must meet within two weeks of Sunday’s official announcement of the election results and elect a president.

Officials with the African National Congress have said they want their leader, President Cyril Ramaphosa, to continue for a second term. Mr. Ramaphosa’s fate probably depends on the negotiations.

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