Election a blow for small parties?

2011-05-20 09:06

Pretoria - As the final results of the local government election were being tallied the ANC, DA, Cope and the recently formed National Freedom Party were patting themselves on the back and celebrating their victories for the most part.

But while the leaders of these four parties had reason to smile, many others did not. And in some instances their poor performance was so dramatic that the DA’s parliamentary leader Athol Trollip predicted the demise of the smaller parties.

He predicted that the 2011 election would be the last election for smaller parties.

"This election will spell the end of smaller parties and it is now clear that the race in future will be between the ANC and DA with Cope in a distant third."

In the last municipal elections in 2006, the ANC walked away with 64.8% of the vote, the DA with 16 and the IFP with 7.6.

In 2000, the ANC garnered 59% of the local vote, the DA 22 and the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) nine.

With some 10% of the ballots still to be tallied, the IFP had garnered 1.2 million votes or four percent of the total votes cast.

The party’s former national chairperson Zanele kaMagwaza-Msibi, who broke away only three months ago after a leadership squabble with IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi was sure to be all smiles after her fledgling National Freedom Party picked up some 780 813 votes, or 2.59% of the total.

But several parties such as the Freedom Front Plus looked to see their share of the vote fall dramatically.

In the 2006 local government elections the Freedom Front Plus secured one percent of the ballot with 252 253, but its support appeared to have plummeted by half with 0.48% of the vote in 2011.

The UDM’s fortunes had also appeared to nosedive with 0.74% of the vote compared to 1.3% in 2006.

The Pan Africanist Congress and the ACDP also saw a decline in their fortunes from 1.3 and 1.1% in 2006 to 0.43% and 0.59% respectively.

The UCDP that was founded by Lucas Mangope, the president of the former Bophuthatswana homeland took 0.7% of the vote in 2006. But in this election with almost 90% of the ballots counted, it appeared that the party would battle to get 0.2% of the vote.

But while their demise has been predicted, a number have said that the DA’s growth has come at their expense and not that of the ANC.

KwaZulu-Natal ACDP leader Jo-Ann Downs ruled out that the ACDP would be history. She said the problem her party faced was that it had no strongholds and its support was widely spread, which did not favour the party in local government elections.

She admitted that the party had not performed to expectations.

"We see it as a temporary setback. We are passionate about what we do." She said expectations that the demise of smaller parties and the establishment of a two-party dominance "only hurts democracy".

She said the biggest problem was that there had been no real increase in the opposition to the ANC.

This sentiment was echoed by the deputy leader of the Freedom Front Plus in Gauteng. Dr Conrad Beyers said the challenge was for parties with like minded values to come together.

He said the DA had secured its position by taking votes from other opposition parties without making inroads into the ANC’s traditional strongholds.

"We think this is bad for opposition politics."

The UCDP’s deputy president Sipho Mfundisi conceded that his party had performed badly, but that this had been as a result of infighting rather than there being no place for minority parties.

"We have not performed as we should have, but this is not the end of our party. With better leadership we still believe we can go it alone."

- SAPA

Read more on:    freedom front plus  |  cope  |  da  |  anc  |  acdp  |  udm  |  ifp  |  elections
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