Concentration of power in the hands of the executive is one of the key challenges to democratic consolidation in Africa. Since the early 1990s, the African National Congress (ANC) has won each national election with up to two-thirds of the votes in South Africa. At the same time, the governing ANC has introduced a process of democratic decentralization. This contribution focuses on the question: to what extent does this process allow for increased power-sharing in South Africa? By analysing the results of two local elections this contribution shows that in seven out of nine provinces the opposition parties are ineffective in challenging the hegemony of the ANC. The analysis then goes on to examine three institutional mechanisms which are likely to have an effect on inter-party relations in-between elections, i.e. floor crossing, ward committees and the electoral system. This in-depth examination shows how these three institutional mechanisms, while not directly restricting opposition parties' opportunity to compete, favour the governing party. Yet, as opposition parties are free to govern small pockets of power, the leadership of the ANC restricts itself and abides by the existing democratic rules. At the same time it needs to be kept in mind that it is the ANC who makes those rules and like any other party in power, they want to retain it.

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