Record rise in number of parties contesting election

THE three administrations since democracy have contributed directly to the proliferation of political parties in South Africa, according to independent political analyst Kelvin Knowles.

This week, the Electoral Commission announced that a record number of political parties were set to contest the national and provincial elections on May 7.

Electoral spokeswoman Kate Bapela said 33 political parties had indicated their intention to contest the National Assembly election – although four parties were yet to fully comply with prescribed deposits and might be ruled out before the poll.

Bapela said if all 33 parties met their obligation, this would be seven more than the 2009 national election and just more than double the number of parties which contested in 1999.

“In South Africa’s historic first democratic election in 1994 there were 19 parties on the national ballot paper and 21 in 2004.”

Knowles said yesterday the erosion of the moral fibre of the ANC had opened the space for other political parties to make inroads into traditional ANC strongholds.

“What is also evident is that emerging political parties and the electorate are becoming increasingly aware of the realignment of political support as it relates to race and economic status and where the born-frees are surfacing as an important dynamic that shapes the political landscape.”

He said the new parties formed after the 2009 elections would not have as big an impact on the polls as COPE had when it started.

“This can be attributed to the fact that at the time COPE represented a [breakaway] from the colossal ANC. COPE’s subsequent internal problems might see it not reaching the 7.4% of the vote as it did in 2009.” Bapela said 18 parties had submitted lists to contest the Eastern Cape. – Thulani Gqirana

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