The Government of National Unity and the demise of the National Party in post-settlement South Africa

SOUTHERN, Neil (2015). The Government of National Unity and the demise of the National Party in post-settlement South Africa. Politikon: South African Journal of Political Studies, 42 (2), 235-254.

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Link to published version:: 10.1080/02589346.2015.1041672


This article explores the demise of the National Party (NP) in postsettlement South Africa. Principally, it focuses on the party’s involvement in the Government of National Unity between 1994 and 1996 and considers the impact of this on the party’s electoral fortunes. From 1948 to 1994 the NP enjoyed political hegemony. It functioned as a racial party vis-a`-vis the country’s white electorate and also an ethnic party with deep emotional links to the Afrikaner community. It played a crucial role in the negotiations that resulted in the end of apartheid and its leader received the Nobel Peace Prize for his peace-making efforts. Yet two or three years after the momentous transfer of power in 1994 the party lost the confidence and support of both Afrikaners and English-speaking whites. This proved terminal and resulted in the party dissolving itself in 2005. The South African case draws our attention to the challenges that an ethnic party can encounter in the post-agreement period. It also alerts us to the problems which can emerge following a negotiated settlement. The article is based upon research conducted with five former senior members of the NP.

Item Type: Article
Research Institute, Centre or Group: Sociology, Politics and Policy Research Group
Identification Number: 10.1080/02589346.2015.1041672
Depositing User: Neil Southern
Date Deposited: 05 May 2016 08:54
Last Modified: 05 May 2016 08:54

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