South Africa: The Big Electoral Reform Headache - How to Do Justice to Democracy Without Creating a Monster


The big challenge for Parliament in redesigning the electoral system will be to give voters the right to select candidates of their choice while doing justice to proportional representation. Currently, 323 parties are registered. In the 2019 election, the ANC got 62.2%, the DA 22.2% and the EFF 6.4% of the national vote. The remaining 320 parties together got only 5.3%.

In New Nation Movement v President of the Republic of South Africa and Others, the Constitutional Court ruled that independent candidates have a right to participate in elections at a national and provincial level, but did not venture into which electoral system better affords electorate accountability. It is up to the National Assembly to redesign the electoral system by June 2022 to accommodate the election of independent candidates.

Surveys of public opinion confirm a pervasive level of cynicism and mistrust in politicians, their motives and their general failure to deliver on election promises. Accountability of elected representatives remains the Achilles heel and a major stumbling block towards substantive democracy in governance systems. One-party dominance of the ANC and weak opposition have resulted in voter apathy and even withdrawal among some sections of the electorate, who prefer not to vote...

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