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Full Representation 
in South Africa


Since transferring to democracy in 1994, South Africa has used a nationwide closed party-list system of proportional representation.  Parliament seats are apportioned to each party according to the proportion of votes each party received nationwide.  The MPs and executive officials for each party are taken from a nationwide list as well as district lists.

On April 14, 2004, South Africa held its third nationwide election.  The African National Congress party won a majority of votes and will therefore control parliament, as they have since 1994.  Other parties will also be represented in parliament and even in the executive branch, however, because in its constitution South Africa rejects winner-take-all in favor of proportional representation.

Visit the links below to read more about South Africa's government, political climate, and elections.  

Newspaper coverage

The Star (SA): "More women clinching top posts." The party-list PR system has led to great strides in women's representation in the South African Government. (April 21, 2004)

JTA News (NYC): "Party led by Jewish politician does well in South African elections." The PR system allows greater religious diversity in parliament, in the midst of vigorous national argument. (April 18, 2004)

Business Report (SA): "For the sake of democracy, opposition to the ANC must come from the left." Author advocates a stronger ideological challenge to the ANC's policies, a movement that is possible under South Africa's multiparty political landscape. (April 17, 2004)

Mail and Guardian (SA): "ANC takes Kwa-Zulu Natal Province as final votes are tallied."  The party founded by Nelson Mandela has won a plurality in all nine provinces, but PR will guarantee that other parties' voices are heard in Parliament as well. (April 17, 2004)

Mail and Guardian (SA): "Nine parties set for parliament." South Africa's newly elected parliament will include nine of the 21 parties contesting the April 14 national election. (April 15, 2004)

Washington Post: "South African voters stick with ANC." Polling station lines snaked across the landscape as South Africans chose the ANC as the nation's top party again. (April 15, 2004)

Pretoria News: "Despite hassles, election was free and fair." Minor problems in the April 14 election were reported. (April 15, 2004)

i-africa: "Prisoners vote for solutions to crime." Even prison inmates enjoy the franchise in South Africa since a constitutional change in 2004. (April 14, 2004)

Washington Post: "Despite deep woes, democracy instills hope." In the midst of myriad social problems, South Africans of all races adapt to democracy. (March 31, 2004)


Andrew Reynolds's 1995 analysis of South Africa's first democratic national election, which was included in CVD's 1995 Voting and Democracy Report. 

Other informative sites

The Mail and Guardian is South Africa's main weekly paper.

The Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA) features South Africa as a case study in proportional representation.


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