History of elections in South Africa

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The South African general elections: 1933

The National Party (NP) led by JBM Hertzog and the South African Party (SAP) led by Jan Smuts entered into a coalition agreement for the general election in 1933. The two parties merged to form the United Party (UP) in December 1934.  Jan Smuts agreed that Hertzog should be the new leader of the party and Prime Minister.

The UP drew much of its political support from the bywoners and poor White families who had little or no prospects in rural areas and were drifting into the towns in large numbers. Fellow Afrikaners supported the UP. The UP was under pressure to create jobs for poor White families. D F Malan and 19 others left the party to form Gesuiwerde Nasionale Party (GNP, Purified National Party).

The general election was held on 17 May 1933, for 150 seats House of Assembly. The election was contested by the South African Party (SAP), the National Party (NP), the Labour Party (LP), and the Independents. The number of registered voters was 957 636, the total number of votes (voter turnout) was 323 417, the number of invalid or blank votes was 3 406, and the total number of valid votes was 320 011. The NP and the SAP coalition obtained 172 645 votes, the SAP obtained 71 486 votes, the NP obtained 101 159 votes, the Labour Party (LP) obtained 20 276 votes, and the Independents obtained 87 321 number of votes.  

In 1934, the majority of the NP and the SAP 'fused' to form the United Party (UP), with Hertzog retaining the post of Prime Minister. DF Malan and 19 others left to form the Gesuiwerde Nasionale Party, (GNP, Purified National Party).

In the 1933 general election, Hertzog’s NP won a majority of 75 seats. The SAP of Jan Smuts won 61 seats, the Labour Party of Walter Madeley won two seats, and Independents 10 seats in the 148-seat House of Assembly.

At the end of 1934, the NP and SAP combined to form the UP with the aim of reconciliation between White English and Afrikaans speaking people. Malan’s Purified NP became the official opposition Party.

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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