South Africa: As DA Bleeds Support, Will Zille's Win Push It Into the Space of a Freedom Front Plus Lite?

Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane, left; new DA Federal Council Chairperson, Helen Zille, centre; and Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba.
analysis

In the party, the race for DA federal council chairperson position at the weekend was read as a referendum on the leadership of Mmusi Maimane. Zille's win is a throwdown against his direction for the official opposition.

In less than two weeks of campaigning, former party leader Helen Zille won a convincing victory, beating Athol Trollip to the role of DA Federal Council chairperson by a significant margin of 15 votes. The reason she did so is that the DA is bleeding votes in almost every by-election it has contested since the May election in which it achieved only one of its key goals.

Will Zille now turn the DA into a Freedom Front Plus-lite to stem the haemorrhage of white Afrikaans-speaking voters to the moderate right-wing party?

Independent election analyst Dawie Scholtz calculates that the DA has lost 20% more of this voting bloc since the national election in May 2019. This may be because the FF Plus's clear anti-ANC and anti-affirmative-action message resonates with a voting bloc that is still key to the DA's fortunes.

"If you break up (the DA's losses) in June, July, August, September and October, it's getting progressively worse and (the losses) are the...

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