One fifth of South Africa's ruling ANC supporters say they would vote for a similar new political party, research showed Monday as a conference of defectors got underway.
The new Congress of the People will officially launch their breakaway party on Tuesday, shaking up South African politics just months before next year's general elections.
A poll from research house Ipsos-Markinor, which canvassed 3,500 people, showed 20 percent of ANC supporters said they would vote for a party that was similar to the former anti-apartheid movement.
"The impact on the ANC in light of the introduction of a new political party, could be that support for the ANC in the 2009 election could decline to below 60 percent," the researchers said in a statement.
Previous research showed that half of ANC supporters felt uneasy about the turmoil within the party. The Ipsos Markinor poll released earlier this month also found that 15 percent of ANC backers planned to vote for the opposition in 2009.
With general elections expected as early as March, the new party hopes to harness that discontent at the ballot box and is counting on this week's event to boost its profile and spread its message to voters.
Since Nelson Mandela became president in 1994 in the country's first democratic elections, South African voters have overwhelmingly supported the ANC, the oldest liberation movement on the continent.