History of elections in South Africa

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The South African general elections: 1915

In 1914,Hertzog established the National Party. For the first time, Afrikaner nationalism became a co-ordinated, country-wide movement and vehicle for the strivings and aspirations of a people who wanted to retain their separate identity and their independence.

The 1915 general election was held on 20 October 1915.  Candidates vied for 130 seats in the House of Assembly. The election was contested by South African Party (SAP), Unionist Party (UP), National Party (NP), Labour Party (LP), Socialist Party (SP), and Independents. The number of registered voters was 365 307, the total number of votes (voter turnout) was 261 433, the number of invalid or blank votes was 4 330, and the total number of valid votes was 257 103. The SAP obtained 94 285 number of votes, the NP obtained 75 623 votes, the Unionist Party (UP) obtained 49 917 votes, Labour Party (LP) obtained 24 755 votes, Socialist Party (SP) obtained 140 votes, and Independents obtained 12 383 votes. 

Hertzog’s National Party (NP) contested its first election in 1915,  and won 27 seats in the 130-seat House of Assembly, the South Africa Party of Louis Botha and Jan Smuts won 54, the Unionist Party of Thomas Smartt and the Labour Party of Colonel Creswell, both dominated by English speakers, won 39 and four seats respectively. Racism, whether based on language or colour, was a major factor in the South African general election.

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References:
• Johnson, S. (1988). South Africa: No turning back. Macmillan.
• Tirykian, E.A. (1960). Apartheid and politics in South Africa. The Journal of Politics, Vol. 22, No 4, pp.682-697.
• Stultz, N. M. (1974). Afrikaner politics in South Africa, 1934-1948. University of California press. Berkely/ Los Angeles/ London.
• Roger B. Beck. (2000). The history of South Africa. Greenwood press, Cape Town, South Africa. 
• Butler, J and Stultz, N M.  (1963). The South African general election of 1961, in Political Science Quarterly, Vol. 78, No. 1, pp. 86-110.    
• Heard, A. K. (1974). General elections in South Africa. London. New York. Toronto: Oxford University.  

Last updated : 24-Mar-2014

This article was produced for South African History Online on 24-Feb-2014