Die oorloopklousule as faktor in die herskikking van die Suid-Afrikaanse partypolitiek
Groenewald, Petrus Johannes
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South Africa entered a new political dispensation in 1994. Prior to 1994 South Africa had a parliamentary governing system, which was based upon the British Westminster system. The electoral system, which was in place at the time, was a majoritarian electoral system of winner-takes-all, also known as the constituency system. The whole of South Africa was divided into different constituencies and the candidate in a constituency who received the majority of votes in an election, became the representative in Parliament. As in other Western democracies, floor crossing of parliamentary members in the parliamentary governing system was a common feature. Since 1994, in the new political dispensation, South Africa has accepted a mixed governing system with a proportional electoral system. The objective of a proportional electoral system is that parliament, in its political party composition, has to be a true reflection of the proportion of votes which each party received in a national election. Voters therefore vote for political parties and not for individual candidates, as is the case in a constituency system. In the proportional electoral system, a candidate becomes a representative in Parliament if his/her political party has nominated him/her. Within this proportional electoral system a problem arises with floor crossing. Floor crossing creates a potentially un-democratic situation, which could lead to a disruption of the balance of power. The existence of a defection clause could therefore exchange the votes of the electorate. The implication is that, if the electorate's vote is exchangeable after it had been cast in favour of a particular party or candidate, political power may transfer from one party to another, certain parties may be strengthened or weakened and existing parties may disappear and new parties my come about without an election having taken place. The aim of this study is to address the problem of floor-crossing in South African party politics. The study entails a literature overview and an empirical investigation into the defection clause, in an effort to determine the nature and impact of floor-crossing within the South African political system. From the study it appears that the majority of South African political parties perceive floor crossing to be a legitimate political activity, but the parties are opposed to unconditional floor crossing. The perception exists that the voting choices of the electorate are being flouted. Floor-crossing furthermore only favour the ruling party many times, as the majority of floor crossers join the strongest party which has the most resources, funds and advantages. Floor crossing is therefore not always an accurate reflection of the choices of voters and could lead to voters becoming apathetic and negative with regards to politicians and politics as a whole. It could furthermore lead to voters not wanting to vote again or see the usefulness of voting and has the potential to create an un-democratic situation in a changing society, such as that of South Africa. It is clear that floor crossing could have a negative impact on South African party politics.
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