National Party (NP)
A history of the National Party
Table of contents:
- The National Party strengthens (1914-1923)
- The Pact Government (1924-1938)
- NP Ascendancy and Apartheid (1939-1950s)
- What the 1948 government meant to the English-speaking White population?
- International reactions to the results of the 1948 election and the introduction of apartheid
- The Republic of South Africa and Racial Strife (1960-1984)
- Regime Unravels (1985-1991)
- The New South Africa and the New National Party (1993-2005)
Founding and ideology (1910-1914)
In 1910 the Union of South Africa was established, and the previously separate colonies of the Cape, Natal, Transvaal and the Orange Free State became provinces in the Union. However, the union was established with ?dominion status?, which effectively meant that South Africa was no longer a colony, but it was not independent and could not leave the empire or ignore the monarchy. After the 1910 elections Louis Botha became the first prime minister of the Union, and headed the South African Party (SAP)- an amalgam of Afrikaner parties that advocated close cooperation between Afrikaners and persons of British descent.
The founder of the NP, General JBM Hertzog, was a member of the Union Government, and was fiercely and publicly nationalistic. This offended English-speaking South Africans and stood in opposition to Botha?s policies of national unity. However, many Afrikaans people saw Hertzog as their representative and many important Afrikaans political and cultural leaders supported him- particularly people from the Orange Free State and the Cape. Hertzog often publicly disagreed with the opinions of his fellow leaders of the SAP, in particular, those of Prime Minister Louis Botha and General Jan Smuts. He promoted South Africa?s interests above Britain?s and saw English and Afrikaans South Africans developing in two parallel, but separate, cultural streams. Some enthusiastic supporters of the British Empire?s presence in South Africa described him as anti-British, and called for his removal from government. Some even decided to resign rather than work with him- while he refused to leave his position.
In May 1913, his Orange Free State supporters in the SAP insisted on his inclusion in the cabinet at the SAP Free State Congress, while the Transvaal members who supported Botha thought he should be excluded. At the national SAP Congress in November 1913, in Cape Town, Botha won enough support to keep Hertzog out of the cabinet. This was the last straw for Hertzog and he left the SAP to form the National Party.
From 1 to 9 January 1914, Hertzog?s supporters met in Bloemfontein to form the National Party, and to lay down its principles. The main aim was to direct the people?s ambitions and beliefs along Christian lines towards an independent South Africa. Political freedom from Britain was essential to the NP, but the party was prepared to maintain the current relationship with the Empire. They also insisted on equality of the two official languages, English and Dutch. Since Hertzog?s policies were orientated towards Afrikaner nationalism, most of his supporters were Afrikaans people.
On 1 July 1914 the National Party of the Orange Free State was born and on 26 August the Transvaal followed. The Cape National Party was founded on 9 June 1915.
The NP did not have a regular mouthpiece to promote its policies and campaigns like the SAP?s Ons Land newspaper in Cape Town and De Volkstem in Pretoria. Die Burger newspaper was therefore created in the Cape on 26 July 1915 for this specific purpose, with D. F. Malan as editor.