Johannesburg (CNN)Despite years of corruption allegations, a sluggish economy and sustained electricity blackouts, South Africa's ruling ANC looks set to win a substantial majority in a critical national election.
South Africa elections: Incoming results suggest ruling ANC set to win diminished majority
With more than 90% of the vote counted, the ANC shows a strong lead with just over 57% of the national vote, according to partial results released by the country's electoral commission.
While the ruling party looks set to maintain its grip on power for the next five years, the results show that voter support for the ANC -- the party of Nelson Mandela -- which has governed since the fall of apartheid in the mid-1990s, is dwindling. The falling support means that it will be harder for the weakened party to enact its agenda -- including bolstering the flagging economy.
The party looks set to dip below the psychological barrier of 60% support -- since the end of the apartheid regime in 1994, the ANC's share of votes in national elections has never fallen below 60%, according to the commission.
In the previous election, in 2014, the ANC won with 62% of voter support. The election year before that -- 2009 -- the party won 66% of the vote. In 2004, it got close to 70% of the vote.
The partial results show the main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), trailing with just under 21% of the vote -- at this stage, its support looks to remain flat -- a disappointing result for the official opposition.
Turnout dropped significantly in this election, reflecting a general voter apathy toward political parties and their promises. While the turnout of around 65% would be the envy of many democracies, it does show a sharp decrease in enthusiasm for voting. In 1999, turnout was just shy of 90%.
The election has not been without its hitches. The commission on Thursday said that several people were arrested for attempting to vote twice. The commission said it would hold a random audit of certain polling stations to gauge the problem.
DA leader Mmusi Maimane, speaking to the press Thursday, asked for a "full audit" of the vote, claiming some voter fraud.
"We have concerns about the electoral process and how some of the issues have been handled; I'm concerned that many South Africans were able to vote twice and therefore our call for an audit is still an important one because we think that needs to be interrogated."
He said he didn't support a re-run of the vote "at this stage."
Official results are expected Saturday.
Voters went to the polls at almost 23,000 polling stations across the country on Wednesday, with ANC leader President Cyril Ramaphosa promising to crack down on corruption in the party, following years of corruption scandals associated with his predecessor Jacob Zuma's time in office.