Saturday, August 07, 2004

South Africa's National Party is Dead

Or so it seems, going by this story. Frankly, they won't be missed, certainly not by me.

The party that legalised apartheid in South Africa has paved the way for its own extinction.
The New National Party says it will fight future elections under the banner of the party that sought to abolish it - the African National Congress.
As the National Party it introduced the policy of apartheid after it came to power in 1948, denying black South Africans the right to vote.
Now it says it will urge all of its supporters take out ANC membership.
The party will then shut down in September next year.
A spokeswoman for the party told Sapa news agency that NNP leader Marthinus van Schalkwyk would be applying for ANC membership in the next few weeks.
It looks like South Africa's settling down to a two-party political system, and this despite the use of proportional representation for the electoral system. Under normal circumstances, one would expect the PR system to lead to a fractionation of the electorate into a multitude of parties, with no single one commanding more than 30-40% of the vote, but South Africa's recent history being what it is, the electoral divide boils down to an unassailable ANC versus everyone else. In a way, I suppose South African politics hasn't changed much in that respect at least - the National Party's dominance was equally overwhelming during the years between 1948 and 1994.

One thing I will say is that the demise of the NP is a harbinger of the reality that any party that wishes to seriously contest for the votes of the South African populace will have to be primarily black run and led, and with this in mind, while the Democratic Alliance's Tony Leon is undoubtedly a fine, upstanding individual, he's currently more of an electoral liability to the fortunes of his party than he is a benefit to it. Whether or not this is "fair" or "right" is neither here nor there, as it is simply the truth - the vast majority of voters are black, most of them are still familiar with what life was like a mere 11 years ago, and there's not a chance in hell that they'll be willing to trust in the benevolence of white leaders while such memories are still so fresh in their minds.