National party

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The Nasionale Party (NP; English : National Party , German : National Party) was the ruling party in South Africa between 1948 and 1994. Its members were sometimes referred to as Nationalists or Nats . The party was dissolved in 2005. Their many years of programmatic was mainly based on the socio-political leitmotif of a racially intended "separate development" ( separate development ) in the South African state, internationally as apartheid was known, as well as the establishment of a Republic under separation from the Commonwealth of Nations and the ideologically founded promote culture the Boer or Afrikaaner.


Foundation and early goals

After the founding of the South African Union in 1910, the South African Party (SAP) ruled , representing both the English-speaking whites and the Boers. The nationalist James Barry Munnick Hertzog was dismissed from the cabinet in 1913 for his pro-Boer stance. From January 1 to 9, 1914, under Hertzog's leadership, the founding congress of the National Party of the Orange Free State took place in Bloemfontein . The main goals were the independence of South Africa from the British Empire and the equality of Afrikaans with English. The NP was based on Calvinism . On July 1, 1914, the NP of the Orange Free State was admitted as a party, on August 26 the NP in Transvaal followed , and on June 9, 1915 the NP in the Cape Province was founded. Its chairman Daniel François Malan also took over the publication of the party newspaper Die Burger (about: "The Citizen").

The Hertzog Cabinet in 1929

The participation of the South African Union on the side of the United Kingdom in the First World War was rejected by many NP supporters, and the invasion of German South West Africa by troops of the Union Defense Force was initially disapproved. In 1915 the NP took part in parliamentary elections for the first time. In 1923 the NP made a pact with the social democratically oriented South African Labor Party (SALP) in order to secure the supremacy of whites in job creation, and won the election with the SALP the following year. It provided Prime Minister James Barry Munnick Hertzog and the majority of the ministers. Afrikaans became the second official language and the national flag was changed. The Hertzog government, which remained in office until 1938, weakened the weight of the colored votes (descendants from the union of blacks and whites) in elections. It did so by giving white women the right to vote in 1930 , but not colored women. This almost doubled the number of votes for the white electorate.

Politics in the Great Depression

In the times of the Great Depression ( Great Depression ) since the late 1920s also suffered from South African economy . In 1934 Hertzog agreed to unite the NP with their rival, Jan Christiaan Smuts ' South African Party . The United National South African Party was formed . However, a group of conservative Afrikaaner nationalists, led by Daniel François Malan , refused to accept the merger and founded the Gesuiwerde Nasionale Party (GNP; “Pure National Party”). After Parliament had decided with a narrow majority to join the war on the side of the Allies on September 4, 1939 , Boer MPs, led by Hertzog, broke away from the government faction and in 1940 formed the Herenigde Nasionale Party (HNP; "United National Party"). The HNP used the popular rejection of participation in World War II to stir up anti-British resentment. At times she did this in cooperation with nationalist organizations such as the Ossewabrandwag or the Nuwe Order, a NP wing under Oswald Pirow , who openly sympathized with Nazi Germany. This fostered a revival of the party that defeated Jan Smuts' United Party in the 1948 election together with the African Party. It received just under 42 percent of the vote, but the majority of the mandates. In 1951 the African Party joined the NP.

Election victory in 1948 and government responsibility for building the apartheid state

The Malan cabinet in 1948

With the election victory in 1948, the NP began to build the apartheid state - over and above the existing laws of racial segregation, political barriers were set up between the population groups that were supposed to ensure the dominance of the white minority. The Tomlinson Commission appointed by the NP government in 1950 with its report of the same name provided a conceptual core element .

Since 1959, the former Native Reserves for the black population have been gradually converted into homelands by the Promotion of Bantu Self-Government Act . The goal of the National Party was to settle all black South Africans in these homelands in the future. These could then continue to work as guest workers in South Africa - mediated by employment agencies . Four homelands were later viewed as independent nations by the government of South Africa and maneuvered into formal independence. All black South Africans received the citizenship of the homelands assigned to them, but lost the citizenship of the Republic of South Africa with the independence of these areas.

Coloreds were removed from the Cape Province electoral roll in 1953. Instead of just voting for the same representatives of the white South Africans, they could now vote for four white representatives. Later, in 1968, the Coloreds were completely stripped of their voting rights. In place of the four representative seats, a partially elected company was set up, which should advise the government in an amendment to the Separate Representation of Voters Act .

These reforms strengthened the National Party politically, denied its political opponents in the ranks of blacks, coloreds and "Asians" access to the elections and thus integrated the whites of South Africa. The National Party increased its majority in parliament in almost every election between 1948 and 1977. In 1977, the NP achieved its best election result, with 64.8 percent of the vote and 134 of 165 seats in parliament.

Another proclaimed goal was achieved in 1960 when the white population broke South Africa's ties to the British monarchy in a referendum and voted for a republic . The result led to South Africa's withdrawal from the Commonwealth .

In 1969, under JBM Herzog's son Albert Herzog, the right-wing Herstigte Nasionale Party ("Newly Constituted National Party") split off and used the well-known abbreviation HNP. It received up to 14 percent of the vote in national elections, but only won a parliamentary seat in a by-election in 1985 due to majority voting , and it still exists today.

The extensive political and cultural isolation of South Africa under the NP government in the 1960s to 1980s was softened by economic contacts. Several foreign companies, including Volkswagen ( Uitenhage ) and Daimler-Benz ( East London ), had large production facilities in South Africa. South Africa was also in demand as an exporter of large quantities of raw materials and as a power factor in the Cold War , so that the NP government had many international partners at its disposal despite efforts to isolate itself around the world. Botha pursued a repressive economic policy called Bothanomics , which meant promoting industrial private entrepreneurs at the expense of the workers.

In the early 1980s, under the leadership of President Pieter Willem Botha, the NP began to reform its principles. Botha allowed mixed marriages, re-allowed multiracial political parties, and defused the Group Areas Act. Botha enabled the heavily restricted political representation of the Coloreds and the Asians by introducing the Tricameral Parliament in 1984 (for example: "Three-Chamber Parliament"). It provided separate chambers for whites, coloreds and Asians, with the numerical superiority of the white MPs. In any case, important decisions were left to the National Assembly, the Chamber of Whites. Blacks were still not allowed to participate in political decision-making processes. The members of the National Assembly had an automatic majority vote in the election of the President. In 1985, a permanent state of emergency was declared . There were two directions within the NP: lost (enlightened) and cramped (immobile) politicians.

Approaches to reform in the 1980s

de Klerk and Mandela (1992)

During this time, foreign countries began to put increased pressure on the Republic of South Africa. Many people in the formerly allied states of North America and Europe vehemently rejected the apartheid state, which also flourished and expanded economically over decades, and some countries imposed sanctions on the country. In the midst of the increasing political instability and growing economic problems, including diplomatic isolation, Botha resigned as chairman of the NP and in 1989 handed over the business of government to the subsequent President Frederik Willem de Klerk . Despite coming from the conservative wing, the immense pressure on the country forced de Klerk to give up hope of maintaining apartheid. Soon after taking office, he proactively decided to start negotiations in order to avoid having to make unnecessary concessions later if the starting point was even worse. He convinced the National Party to enter into negotiations with the representatives of the blacks. Later in 1989 the National Party won an intense election campaign against the Konserwatiewe Party with a promise to negotiate an end to apartheid . In 1990 the African National Congress (ANC) was approved; the most famous opposition activist Nelson Mandela was released from prison after 27 years. At the same time as the negotiations to end apartheid, the NP tried to maintain power. For this purpose, the former Minister Stoffel van der Merwe was appointed for the first time as a Secretary General , who, however, resigned in 1992.

End of apartheid and democratic elections

A referendum in 1992 gave de Klerk unlimited power to negotiate with Mandela. As a result of the negotiations, a new constitution was drafted and, for the first time, elections were held in 1994 in which all South Africans could vote regardless of their ethnicity. These elections were won by the ANC with an absolute majority. However, the National Party remained in the ANC-led government until 1997 when it withdrew to become the official opposition. At the same time, the former Minister Roelf Meyer was appointed Secretary General, who, however, also only held office for a short time.

Transformation and dissolution of the party

In 1997 the National Party was renamed the Nuwe Nasionale Party . It existed under this name until 2000, when it joined forces with the Democratic Party to form the Democratic Alliance , which was terminated at the end of 2001. In 2004 it was decided to join the ANC. Thereupon their "Federal Council" dissolved the party on April 9, 2005 in a vote.

Examples of apartheid laws created under their leadership

The NP initiated numerous laws to legislatively secure apartheid:

Foreign and security policy from 1948

Because of its apartheid policy and the illegal occupation of South West Africa, the NP government was exposed to increasing pressure from the world public. Opposition groups like the ANC only offered resistance through non-violent actions , and from 1961 also through attacks. The NP government responded with repression. Several departments of the South African Police (SAP) were dedicated to counterinsurgency , some with covert methods such as the Vlakplaas department , which was responsible for the murder of numerous opposition members. Within the army, the South African Defense Force (SADF), there were also departments such as the Civil Cooperation Bureau , which used covert means against opposition members, including abroad. Smaller neighboring states such as Swaziland and Lesotho were economically dependent on South Africa. To enforce its interests, South Africa carried out numerous commando attacks in neighboring countries. The NP government mostly fought covertly against the independence movements in Angola , Mozambique and Zimbabwe . President Botha developed the concept of total strategy , which was conceived as a reaction to a "total threat" from the outside and, among other things, linked and expanded the powers of the military and police. However, the SADF intervened in the Angolan civil war via the Namibian War of Independence and suffered a defeat in the battle of Cuito Cuanavale , which contributed to the end of apartheid , mainly due to Cuban troops .


See also

Web links

Commons : Nasionale Party  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w History of the NP (English), accessed on December 25, 2015.
  2. Manufactured National Party at (English), accessed April 17, 2013.