PROPORTIONAL representation, a system adopted by South Africa in 1994, guarantees minority parties are included in the political dispensation. It works for small parties such as Agang, Cope and PAC who all might have failed dismally if the old ‘first past the post’ Westminster System was still in effect, but does it work for micro parties, those parties which get below 30 000 seats?
Currently it takes anywhere between 37 000 and 50 000 votes to gain a seat in the 400 seat National Assembly. In a formula not disclosed to the public by the IEC, the votes of parties which failed to gain these figures are re-allocated. The PAC for instance would not have gained a seat if the crucial 50 000 votes per seat was cast in stone, and some may argue that doing this strengthens democracy by seperating the wheat from the chaff, but does it?
An ideal political system would be where each and every citizen was represented, for instance direct democracy. With the rise of electronic voting system, a future in which everyone votes on the bills which get passed in parliament, and where political parties are able to canvass the opinion of their members rapidly and without ignoring them for 5 years as most parties are want to do, is not out of the bounds of possibility.
Let’s look as some of the parties which gained votes but still failed to make it into parliament.
Below 30 000 seats
Al Jama-ah 25 976
Minority Front 22589
United Christian Democratic Party 21 744
Azanian People’s Organisation 20 421
Bushbuckridge Resident’s Association 15 271
Independent Civic Organisation 14 472
Patriotic Alliance 13 263
Below 10 00 seats
Workers and Socialist Party 8331
Ubuntu Party 8234
Kingdom Governance Movement 6408
Front National 5138
United Congress 3136
Keep it Straight and Simple 4294
People’s Alliance 1671