DA plays in ANC hands to change electoral system

2017-05-11
Dr Pieter Groenewald

The Democratic Alliance (DA) plays in the hands of the ANC if they want to change the electoral system in South Africa into a constituency system. A constituency system will give the ANC a greater majority of up to 80% in the National Assembly. This was even confirmed by Dr Van Zyl Slabbert in the Electoral Task Team Report (p. 19) on electoral systems.

The moment when the ANC, as ruling party, realizes that he can lose power, he can change the electoral system to benefit him, and then the constituency system of winner-takes-all is the most beneficial for the party. A feature and major disadvantage of the constituency electoral system is that a party can rule even with a minority.

In 1948 and 1953 the National Party ruled with the majority constituencies, but with a minority of the votes. It is precisely this election system that keeps Robert Mugabe in power in Zimbabwe. The boundaries of constituencies are manipulated to benefit the ruling party.

The criticism of the current electoral system is that it gives too much power to party structures and does not guarantee the accountability of representatives. Dr Pieter Groenewald, who obtained his doctorate with his research on the South African national electoral system, found that electoral systems did not ensure the degree of accountability of representatives. This is ensured by the internal rules and discipline of the political parties of the representatives.

It is not electoral systems that appoint candidates in an election, but the various political parties. In any nomination of candidates, leadership and party bureaucracy will play a particular role, regardless of the type of electoral system. Dr Groenewald also found that the current proportional electoral system is the most suitable electoral system for South Africa, because every voice counts, and should be retained.

Even a change to a mixed electoral system will also benefit the ANC to obtain an enlarged majority. Another disadvantage of the mixed electoral system is once again that it creates two classes of representatives. Political parties become more centralist and party leaders sometimes more powerful under this electoral system because the party and / or its leaders decide who gets the security to be a list candidate and who should run the risk of being a constituency candidate. They also often decide where the candidates are placed on the list.

 

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