South African 1948 General Election

The 1948 election in South Africa changed the country for 40 years. It caused apartheid to take effect in South Africa. It was between the United Party and the Reunited National Party. The United Party was led by Jan Smuts at the time, and the Reunited National Party was led by D.F.Malan(Rogers 47). These parties had different views. South Africans were looking for something new, which they found in the winner of this election, The Reunited National Party. The outcome of the 1948 general election in South Africa was affected by the two major parties in the election which were the Reunited National Party and the United Party.

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The United Party was opposing Reunited National Party in the election. It was created in 1933 and was South Africa’s leading political party from 1934 to 1948. In its creation Prime Minister Barry Hertzog’s National Party, an Smuts’ South African Party, and what was left of the Unionist Party joined together. They had support from many groups including English, Afrikaners, and colored people (Alvarez-Rivera). Hertzog led until 1939 when he opposed helping Great Britain against Germany in World War 2. Jan Smuts took over the Party afterwards. The United Party sided with the Labour Party which was formed 1910. It was democratic socialist and represented the white working class. It had seats in South African House of Assembly from 1910 to 1958. It was always a minority, so it would usually support a majority party. In which in 1948 they supported the United Party. From 1910 to 1929 it was led by Colonel F.H.P. Creswell. After World War 1 a strike led to them siding with the United Party (Price).

The National Party was formed in 1915. It was created by Afrikaner Nationalists after the Union of South Africa was created. It was created from disagreements with Hertzog. It led South Africa from 1948-1994. Its policies were Apartheid, Republic, and promoting Afrikaner culture. It was originally called the National Party and was led by Hertzog until 1934 when he took it to form the United Party. He had made it where the coloreds’ votes were undermined. He did this by letting women vote, which made more whites be able to vote. When Hertzog planned on leaving Daniel Francois Malan and some Afrikaner Nationalists refused to merge and formed the Purified National party. They got support by opposing South Africa in World War 2. This reunified them with Purified Nationalists to form the Reunited National Party. Another name for the Reunited National Party is Herenigde Nasionale Party. In 1948 it sided with the Afrikaner Party. It was created back in 1948. It was a minority in joining with the Herenigde National Party ( Rogers 48-56, 94-102).

In voting in 1948 the National Party removed colored voters from voting similar to black voters. In 1936 Representation of Natives Act was passed by Hertzog. This removed black voters from common voters’ rolls and were put on native voters rolls. Blacks couldn’t vote in normal elections for Cape Provincial Council or House of Assembly. Now they voted separately for 2 members of the Cape Provincial Council and 3 members of House of Assembly. Four Senators would be elected by local councils, chiefs, or tribal councils for the native areas (Price). White men and women over 21 were able to vote in these elections also.

The House of Assembly was what voters were voting for it was the lower part of parliament. The members were elected by first past the post voting which is where the election is won by the person with more votes than the other(s). It is used a lot but not everywhere. It used in mostly democratic governments with districts being single membered, and between 2 parties (Rogers 124-126). The House of Assembly was made up mostly of white men, but a woman was able to be in it also, and was made up of 153 seats at time of 1948 election.

In the results of the election the Reunited National Party won 70 seats. The United Party won 65 seats. The Reunited National Party’s alignment partner, Afrikaner party, won 9 votes to bring them and the Reunited National party to 79 seats. The United Party’s alignment partner, Labour Party, won 6 seats to bring up a total 74 votes. There were also 3 independent votes which made it equal up to 153 seats. Even though the Reunited National Party won more seats than the United Party, the United Party had more votes. The United Party received 524, 230 votes in the election while the Reunited National Party received only 401, 834 votes, but still won more seats in the House of Assembly (Alvarez-Rivera).

One of the issues in the country at the time was race. There are many reasons the Reunited National Party won the election. They realizes a lot of whites were feeling threatened by black people wanting to be part of government so they said that they would put strict racial segregation everywhere in the country and everywhere in peoples’ lives if they won. They would encourage blacks to stay in country areas and not move to cities. The United Party liked unclear movements of integrating South Africa’s different ethnicity groups. They thought that integration would happen anyways and so they should stop policies trying to stop blacks moving to city areas. They wanted to eventually let blacks take place in government. Other problems for the United Party were whites being unhappy with the economy and domestic things after World War 2. The Reunited National party used gerrymandering and organization as an advantage to win the election (Price). Another reason was the different sectors of the country. The farmer’s used inexpensive labor from blacks to raise profit. Also the white workers from urban areas were scared of blacks moving to cities and competing with their jobs. The United Party never realized the mood of these people. The Reunited National Party picked up these moods and easily made them join them and create more support. They put more fear into people by saying if United Party won then eventually Blacks would be part of government. The Reunited National Party used United Party’s leader Smuts good relationship with Stalin to show how he favored communism (Rogers 178-181). The United Party’s immigration program allowed British people to move to South Africa and were thought to take white South Africans homes and jobs. The 70 seats won by the Reunited National Party were mostly from country areas, and the 65 wins by the United Party were mostly from city areas. At this time there were more rural constituencies, electoral district, than urban ones which gave them more seats but less votes. Smuts and the United Party were blamed for the hard times of World War 2. They blamed them for rationing petroleum and wheat. Even after the war they still sent supplies to Great Britain and the Netherlands. This caused a local shortage for bread and meat. They also loaned 4 million ounces of gold to Great Britain (Alvarez-Rivera).

At the time the Reunited National Party seemed energetic and prepared unlike the United Party who appeared lackadaisical. This causes people to be inspired and want change for better for a country going through a rough time as South Africa was during at this time after Word War 2. This caused a great deal of emotion and the result of the Reunited National Party reaching people scared of integration and losing jobs and homes. Instead they called for apartheid which separated the country from 1948 until 1994. This held the country back from it s full potential of being a leader of the world. The two parties in this election showed different attitudes and opinions, and this caused the Reunited National Party to beat the United Party in the South African 1948 general election.