Wednesday, March 24, 2010

An interesting... party alliance

I am sure you are all aware of events hapening in opposition politics in South Africa. Recently, the Democratic Alliance, United Democratic Movement, Independent Democrats and Congress of the People all had a chinwag and decided to put up a united front to the ANC. Honorouble in its intentions, but it is unclear what path they are going to take - parrticularly in light of conflicting philosophies.

However, if we can assume for the purposes of this post that the parties agreed on policy - considering Cope have none, that shouldn't be too hard for them - there are a few options for them. One is a solid working agreement against the ANC - but, really, is that any different to what is going on now?

Another is coalition politics - this was key in wrestling the city of Cape Town from ANC control and having Helen Zille take over as mayor, leading to huge success in the Western Cape in the 2009 elections, where the DA now rules.

However, there is a possibility that the four parties will unite into one alliance and play the part of one party. This is what many people seem to be excited about, but I think we should be weary. As much as people may swear for a political party, many South Africans vote against the ANC. And with over 65% of the electorate, nabbing at least 15 of the ANC's percentage points of that is key in making us a stronger democracy.

Here come the mass generalisations...

Should the parties unite, serious questions will be asked as to who will lead it. None of de Lille, Zille, Holomisa or Shilowa/Lekota will want to be the numbers 2-4 in the party. In fact, Cope have been arguing for the best part of 18 months as to who will lead them. I fear that if Helen Zille is the party's number 1, black votes will remain with the ANC and the united effort will look only very slightly different to how the DA looks now, and then where will Cope's 8% of the vote share go?

No matter what happens with this alliance, white people will continue to vote for it. There is no alternative to the DA for the majority of white voters, as the staunchly conservative and right-wing FF+ is in bed with the ANC - who many vote against. Helen Zille is enough of a brand that pale folks will continue to vote for whichever party she stands with. I still think that Cope is the hottest and most underused political hot property in the country right now, and I am excited about what they can do if they ever come up with a policy, differentiate themselves and choose a damn leader - parties need faces - and although I reckon Lekota would initially be my pick, it SHOULD be Mbhazima Shilowa who is far more marketable - and if this alliance becomes anything, he should head that too. Holimisa comes with a lot of baggage - he was top dog of a homeland and turfed out the ANC, and quite frankly, you hardly ever hear of his party - even in the Eastern Cape. I know Patricia de Lille is well-known in SA politics, and I like her, but I am not sure she is enough to boost this party enormously.And her and Holomisa only have 8 seats in Parliament combined... whereas the DA has 67 and Cope has 30.

Fact: This alliance will only ever be a success if it takes black votes from the ANC. But I have a sneaky feeling that Cope have the potential to do that on their own anyway, should they ever sort themsevles out. Their scope for growth in the short-term is huge, wheras the DA's outside the Western Cape is not - their next best performance in 2009 was in Gauteng where they achieved just over 22%.

So if this alliance is going to be a success, it needs Patricia's continual stance on poverty and anti-corruption, the DA's organisation and balls, the UDM's (insert whatever you can think of) and Cope's potential.

No comments: