Fri, 24 May 2019

DA's lack of growth at the polls was a necessity

News24
15 May 2019, 04:14 GMT+10

The final election results are in and it is clear that the outright winner is the ANC: having garnered the most votes, but less compared to 2014. It would seem out of the big 3 (the ANC, DA and EFF), it was only the EFF who gained more votes overall.

The underwhelming results of the Democratic Alliance have been debated and discussed across social media, amongst political analysts and between leaders too. It should not come as a surprise though, since the battle has been through difficult in recent times and should use the post-election period to reflect and focus on itself.

Patricia De Lille's GOOD Party and the ATM Party

Perhaps two of the major contributing factors to the loss of potential DA votes came from two political parties that consisted of members who left the DA due to their disgruntlement with the DA treatment of them.

Patricia De Lille was hounded by the DA at all levels for allegedly being corrupt and yet no proper evidence was present nor was she found guilty in a court of law. At the end, Patricia De Lille left the DA and former her own party, the Good Party, which primarily consisted of DA leaders in Cape Town who left and had more faith in de Lille.

The church formed, youth supported African Transformation Movement (ATM) gathered many of its supporters from the DA in the Eastern Cape area, with DA leaders such as Veliswa Mvenya leaving the party to join the ATM. This definitely affected the DA's votes in the Eastern Cape.

Ideological Battles

The DA has been having its own identity clashes in recent years. From the time of prominent DA young leaders such as Lindiwe Mazibuko and Mbali Ntuli, who provided a social liberal, social democratic approach in the party, to recent leaders such as Gwen Ngwenya, who provided classical liberal and right-wing views, the DA has been battling to establish where it actually stands.

The reason for this is because the DA has become diverse racially and ideologically. There are former members of Progressive Freedom Party and National Party which had contrasting views, and there are now young black DA leaders who have strong socially liberal and democratic views. These differing of views can even be seen in the DA according to the province. In the Western Cape, the DA prioritises classical liberalism and in Kwa-Zulu Natal, the current DA leadership is strongly socially liberal.

This "confusion" of ideologies has discouraged voters from considering the DA because, whilst the party is still combating the view of it being a white dominated party, it is now facing voter uncertainty because people do not feel that they receive concrete views from the DA anymore.

Losing the Conservative Vote

After analysing the recent election results, it can be deduced that many of the DA's potential voters, who are usually white conservatives, decided to vote for right-wing parties such as the Freedom Front Plus and African Christian Democratic Party instead of them.

The reason for this was the DA's focus on "getting the black vote". The party has insisted on being the party that represents all South Africans and aims to unite all South Africans. Whilst it may come across to many as a "kumbaya" tactic, it is nevertheless, an attempt of the DA to keep its liberal roots intact whilst facing Marxist, populist and socialist competition.

Nevertheless, the conservatives seem to have begun their departure from the Democratic Alliance. This may provide the party with a chance to fully establish itself as the prominent socially liberal party in South Africa without interference from members, supporters or donors who expect them to be more "right-wing" in their politics.

It seems that the DA, following this election, will need to spend a lot of time focusing on itself, finalising its identity and ensuring that the party and its supporters have full confidence in its leadership. To retain the same number of support is impressive but the disappointing lack of growth, which was expected, reveals to us that the majority of South Africans do not have faith in the DA.

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