17 April 2019

South Africa: Pirate Party, Anyone? Exploring the Potential That Lies in Smaller Parties Contesting the Elections


The 2019 election campaign has seen a proliferation of small, special-interest and some geographically-based parties. Globally, this is not a new phenomenon, and some - like the Pirate Party in Sweden - have achieved notable success. But will it happen in South Africa?

While the 2019 election seems unlikely to drastically change the structure of our politics, the current phase of campaigning does appear to be revealing certain trends. This is not so much about what is happening in the bigger parties (where the ANC is already the presumed victor, the DA appears on track to stay where it is, and the EFF is likely to grow), but about what is happening with the smaller parties.

The current rounds of televised debates are throwing a spotlight on what could be called a festival of smaller groups - single constituency movements, and even some small geographic entities. Because of the structure of our political system, this trend is likely to continue until it could one day have a very real impact on our politics.

To watch a live TV election debate right now is to be introduced to a set of political parties that we haven't always seen before, even if...

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