Elections in South Africa

Elections in South Africa

Elections in South Africa take place on national, provincial, and local levels. South Africa is a multi-party democracy with the African National Congress in power with a significant majority since 1994. A system of proportional representation, incorporating party lists, is in place which makes it possible for small parties to achieve representation in parliament.

The parliament has two chambers, and elects the president. The National Assembly has 400 members, elected for a five year term. The National Council of Provinces has 90 members, elected for a five year term by the provincial parliaments. The National Assembly and Provincial Councils are elected when General Elections are held.

Members to the local governing councils in the municipalities and mayors are elected in municipal elections.


Early days of the Union

At the time of Unification and admission as a dominion of Great Britain in 1910 until the 1929 elections the franchise structures of the constituent colonies were applied. Subsequently only white men were allowed to vote in three of the provinces while a highly restricted number of black and coloured men where able to vote in the Cape Province. In 1930 white women received political franchise. However by 1939 black men were disenfranchised in the Cape by being placed on a separate voters roll - eventually this representation was removed.

Constitutional Crisis in 1950s

After coming to power in 1948 the National Party engaged in a policy of removing coloured voters in a similar manner to black voters. This policy lead to legal challenges and amounted to a Constitutional Crisis which was stopped by Parliament reconstituting the Senate. During the crisis the Supreme Court asserted its right to test the procedure of law creation by Parliament.

Republic of South Africa

In 1960 a referendum was held to decide whether to become a republic. No changes were made to the franchise with the Republic's emergence in 1961. However with the policy of establishing Bantustans the remaining representation in the Senate was completely removed.

Tricameral Parliament

After the 1983 referendum, it was decided to create a Tricameral Parliament, giving limited political franchise to the Coloured and Indian population groups.

End of Apartheid

After the 1992 referendum, deciding to end apartheid, universal suffrage was implemented allowing people of all races to take part in the first democratic elections in 1994.

Since 1994 all adult South Africans have in principle possessed the franchise and the right to vote is entrenched in the Constitution, however various logistical challenges still exist as is common with all democracies

Election results

2004 general election

Past elections and referendums


ee also

*Electoral calendar
*Electoral system


*cite web |url=http://www.ipu.org/wmn-e/suffrage.htm |title=Women's suffrage |accessdate=2006-03-04
* [http://psephos.adam-carr.net/countries/s/southafrica/ Adam Carr's Election Archive]
* [http://africanelections.tripod.com/za.html African Elections Database]

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