JOHANNESBURG – With 26 councils having no clear majority winner after the 2016 local government elections, political parties will have to negotiate coalition agreements to govern.
Among the 26 where no majority was declared, were the hotly contested metropolitan municipalities of Johannesburg, Tshwane, Ekurhuleni and Nelson Mandela Bay.
However not all negotiations will be cut and dried.
Constitutional law expert, Pierre de Vos, explained what will happen should no party obtain a majority and no coalition formed.
– After the election results are declared and parties are allocated council seats, a municipal council meeting must take place within 14 days, where a speaker and a mayor must be elected.
– If no candidate receives an outright majority, the candidate who receives the lowest number of votes must be eliminated and a further vote must be taken on the remaining candidates. This procedure must be repeated until a candidate receives an absolute majority of the votes.
– If no party wins a majority of seats in a municipal council which has opted for an executive mayoral system, the largest political party in the council will attempt to form a formal coalition with other political parties or independent councillors to secure a governing majority.
– If a coalition cannot be formed because parties cannot agree on it, a minority government can still be formed. Smaller parties will have to decide who to support when the election of the speaker and the executive mayor is held. A smaller party can decide to vote for the mayoral candidate from a particular party but refuse to form a coalition with it.
– If no coalition is formed, it will at first be necessary to form a minority government because a municipal council may dissolve itself only after at least two years have passed since the council was last elected, and only when two thirds of council members support a motion to that effect.
– If a coalition collapses, or if smaller parties withdraw their support for the speaker or mayor, then the speaker and the executive mayor can be removed from office by a simple majority vote by councillors. A new coalition can then be negotiated and a new speaker and mayor elected.
– If that does not happen, minority parties may support the election of a new speaker and mayor without forming an official coalition with any of the larger political parties, in which case a new minority government will be formed.