Smaller parties ‘can play huge role in coalition politics’

Motorists are seen driving past election posters in Alberton. A record of 48 political parties will contest this year's elections, 22 April 2019. Picture: Itumeleng English / African News Agency (ANA)

Motorists are seen driving past election posters in Alberton. A record of 48 political parties will contest this year's elections, 22 April 2019. Picture: Itumeleng English / African News Agency (ANA)

Smaller parties are likely to affect votes for big parties and the ANC may possibly be the biggest loser, political analysts say.

Casting your vote for a smaller party might be a gamble, but they could lead to coalitions playing a huge role in politics in future, according to experts.

This comes after 48 political parties signed the Code of Conduct Pledge of the Electoral Commission of South Africa rules to contest in the upcoming elections in May, the majority of them being smaller or newer parties.

Political analyst Gareth van Onselen predicted that over half of the parties expected to be listed on the ballot paper would “vanish off the radar” after the elections.

He said while smaller parties worked hard to attract voters, it was always important for voters to choose a party they felt would represent them because “if a party does not get enough votes, your voice will not be heard”.

“Voters need to sum up whether the particular party they are considering voting for will affect governance, because if it does not, they will lose the pragmatic benefit of voting,” said Van Onselen.

However, political analyst Lesiba Teffo told The Citizen about the damage that certain smaller parties could inflict on leading parties like the ANC.

Teffo explained that, small as they appear, parties like the African Transformation Movement (ATM) and the African Content Movement (ACM) could usurp the ANC’s disgruntled membership and could contribute to the ANC getting less than 60%.

Political analyst Professor Mcebisi Ndletyana agreed and said the biggest casualties of voters opting for smaller parties would be the dominance of bigger parties.

He explained that some of these parties were formed when members of bigger parties opted to break away and form their own parties, taking with them their supporters.

He said the impact of these parties depended on who they were founded by and what their identity and objectives were.

“Smaller parties are likely to affect [votes for] big parties and the ANC may possibly be the biggest loser,” said Ndletyana.

Political analyst Andre Duvenage said “in the future I’m sure we will see more coalition parties that will have an impact on the number of voters for smaller parties”.

jenniffero@citizen.co.za

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