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The dominant South African political party


Landscape of South Africa
Landscape of South Africa

The dominant South African political party is the African National Congress (ANC). Major opposition parties include the Congress of the People (COPE), the Democratic Alliance, and the Inkatha Freedom Party. Other opposition parties include the South African Democratic Congress, United Democratic Movement, Independent Democrats, African Christian Democratic Party, and Freedom Front Plus.

The ANC, founded in 1912, spearheaded the liberation struggle against apartheid. Nelson Mandela led the ANC from the early 1950s until the late 1990s. The ANC was based within the country until it was banned in 1960 and forced to operate from outside South Africa.

As a broad coalition of interests and a liberation movement, its membership overlapped substantially with the South African Communist Party (SACP, founded in 1921 as the Communist Party of South Africa). The ANC entered the 1994 elections in alliance with the SACP and the main trade union federation, COSATU. In the 1994 election the ANC won the support of most black constituents, except in KwaZulu-Natal, and about one-third of Asian and Coloured votes, but few white votes. The ANC has dominated each subsequent legislative election. Its policies are nonracial and seek to redress the injustices of the apartheid years. The Congress of the People (COPE) formed in 2008 as a split-off from the ANC. It was made up largely of former ANC activists who were unhappy with the ouster of Thabo Mbeki from the party’s leadership.

COPE promised to be a multiracial party with appeal across class lines, but it failed to win broad support in the 2009 parliamentary elections, taking only 7 percent of the vote.

The Democratic Party


The Democratic Party (DP), founded in 1989, was the successor to the relatively liberal white traditions of the earlier Progressive Party. The DP played an important mediating role in the negotiations leading to agreement on the interim constitution. Support for the DP increased markedly prior to the 1999 elections. The DP joined forces with several other parties in 2000 to form a coalition called the Democratic Alliance.

The Inkatha Freedom Party, founded in 1975, is an ethnically based party commanding the support of most Zulu in KwaZulu-Natal. It is more conservative on most issues than the ANC and seeks to maximize provincial power. "South Africa" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia

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