From Creamer Media in Johannesburg, welcome to Polity's Election Results Special Report.
On April 22, 2009, over 17,9-million South Africans cast their votes.
Voting was for both the national Parliament, and the nine provincial legislatures.
National results, as announced by the Independent Electoral Commission, show that the African National Congress (ANC) came away from the elections with 65,9% of the vote.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) firmly entrenched its position as the official opposition party, with 16,66% of the national vote, while the newly-established Congress of the People (Cope) came in third with 7,42%, followed by the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) with 4,55% of the national vote.
The Independent Democrats (ID) received 0,92%, the United Democratic Movement (UDM) 0,85%, the Freedom Front Plus (FF Plus) 0,83%, and the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) 0,81% of the national vote.
The United Christian Democratic Party (UCDP) received 0,37% of the national vote, the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania (PAC) followed with 0,27% of the national vote, and the Minority Front (MF) with 0,25%.
The Azanian People's Organisation (Azapo) obtained 0,22% of the national vote and the African Peoples Convention (APC) 0,20%.
The rest of the small opposition parties, all winning below 0,20% of the national vote, did not receive sufficient votes to gain a seat in Parliament.
The parties that received an adequate percentage of the vote, won the right to representation in the National Assembly, which is made up of 400 seats.
Of these, 200 seats are assigned according to the percentage of national votes that each party receives.
The other 200 seats in the National Assembly are assigned using a formula that allocates seats according to provincial population. Gauteng is assigned 47 seats, KwaZulu-Natal 39 seats, the Eastern Cape 26 seats, the Western Cape 23 seats, Limpopo province 19 seats, Mpumalanga 15 seats, North West province 14 seats, the Free State 12 seats, and the Northern Cape 5 seats in the National Assembly.
On this basis, the ANC's percentage of the national vote translates into 264 seats in Parliament.
It was widely speculated that the ANC would be elected with a two-thirds majority in Parliament, which would have allowed the party to alter the Constitution. However, a two-thirds majority in Parliament requires 267 seats, leaving the ANC three seats short. Nevertheless, this could change if the ruling party was to get one or more of the smaller parties to join with it in order to reach the 267-seat mark.
The DA won 67 seats in Parliament, Cope 30 seats, and the IFP 18 seats.
The ID, the UDM and the FF Plus all won four seats in Parliament, while the ACDP obtained three and the UCDP two seats in Parliament.
The PAC, the MF, Azapo, and the APC all received one seat in Parliament.
A total of 13 parties are represented in the National Assembly.
Turning to the results of the nine provincial legislatures, IEC results show that the ANC retained control of all provinces except the Western Cape, where the DA won an outright majority of 51,46%. In that hotly contested province, the ANC obtained 31,55% of provincial votes.
The ruling party achieved its greatest majority in Mpumalanga, with 85,55% of the provincial vote. In this province, the DA remained the official opposition, with 7,49% of the vote.
In Limpopo, the ANC received 84,88% of the provincial vote, with Cope taking over as the official opposition in the province with 7,53% of the vote.
The North West province brought the ANC a majority with 72,89% of the provincial vote. Here, the DA remained the official opposition with 8,25% of the vote.
In the Free State, the ANC received 71,1% of the provincial vote, while Cope became the official opposition in the province, with 11,61% of the vote, just ahead of the DA at 11,60%.
In the Eastern Cape, a traditional ANC stronghold, the ANC maintained its grip with 68,82% of the provincial vote, while Cope came in second with 13,67% of the vote.
In Gauteng, the province with the highest number of voters, the ANC remains firmly in control with 64,04% of the provincial vote, while the DA remained the official opposition with 21,86% of the vote.
In KwaZulu-Natal, the ANC gained 62,95% of the provincial vote, with the IFP as the official opposition on 22,40% of the vote.
In the Northern Cape, the ANC received its narrowest margin of victory, with 60,75% of the provincial vote. Cope came in as the official opposition in the province, with 16,67% of the vote.
Each provincial legislature is composed of party representatives on a proportional basis.
A delegation from each provincial legislature, lead by the premier of that province, has representation in the National Council of Provinces, the second chamber of Parliament in South Africa's bicameral system. The aim of this system is to give provinces a say in the national legislative process.
In the wake of the 2009 elections, there are 11 political parties represented in the nine provincial legislatures across the country.
Nationally, the IEC found that 77% of all registered voters came out to vote on election day. Of the total amount of votes cast, 17 680 729 votes were valid, and a total of 239 237 ballots, or 1,35% of votes cast, were spoilt.
From Creamer Media's Polity, I'm Amy Witherden.