Role of elections in consolidating democracy
Within this institutional framework a strong party system developed.The National Party could trace its origins to 1913 when it was formed as the heir to Afrikaner republican traditions.Between then and 1994 the only elected bodies which represented Africans were those which functioned within the boundaries of the ethnic homeland system.
Voter interest in elections was sustained by the degree of ideological hostility that existed between parties and the strong sense in which until the 1980s political divisions amongst whites corresponded with ethnic and other kinds of social distinction. In 1987, for example, half the English speaking population voted for the (traditionally Afrikaner) National Party.Meanwhile, 50 000 Coloureds were removed from the common roll for parliamentary elections in 1957 after enlargements of the Senate and the Supreme Court enabled the government to remove the entrenched status of Coloured voting rights.Instead, Coloureds were accorded voting rights for special white representatives; by 1963 Coloured voter registration had declined by 80 per cent to under 10 000.An exodus of Dutch-speaking pastoralists beyond the borders of the colony led to the establishment of independent settler republics.Within these republics, a creolised form of Dutch, Afrikaans, became the dominant language.
At the same time, Africans could elect 12 African representatives to an advisory Native Representative Council.