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The Reasons for the Success of the National Party's 1948 Election

In: Historical Events

Submitted By evrclew
Words 497
Pages 2
“The National Party Election victory was down to their policy of Apartheid.”
– How far do you agree with this statement?
Critically, this statement can be deemed as true to a great degree because the clear-cut, appealing Apartheid policy that Malan and the National Party stood for was the rallying point for the party to base all their arguments on. Equally, it is evident that other subsequent reasons such as the weaknesses of the United Party’s manifesto and previous existence in government – as well as the National Party’s effective ability to highlight this –were ultimately highly influential in giving rise to the victory of the National Party. As put by Dan O’Meara in his works from 1996, the election can be seen as “not won by the National Party, but lost by the government”. Following, are the reasons that stay true to the statement and also differing reasons which hold valuable placement on why the National Party victory occurred in 1948.
Primarily, the National Party’s policy of Apartheid was so effective because it appealed to the electorate. The voting populace of South Africa came from a high majority of white Afrikaners - with the only “coloured” voters coming from the wealthy Black Cape Province - which made up 25% of the country’s population in total. Therefore, the policies of Apartheid which promised racial segregation and offered protection and comfort for the white workers who were beginning to feel their job security was in jeopardy after the war provided an attractive notion to vote for the National Party.
Moreover, not only were these policies attractive to the white voters but they were also clear-cut and direct. For example, Malan stated exactly what tackling the racial issue meant in practical terms – outlawing interracial marriages and abolishing African representation in parliament. As a result, the National Party provided a sense of direction for the voters which was something that was deemed as somewhat lacking in the United Party government. Consequently, more votes were gained for the National Party as their policies towards Apartheid were clear and unwavering.
The way that the National Party also presented these policies was crucial in the National Party being elected as government in 1948. Malan was careful in his manifesto to manipulate the means of which he conveyed the Apartheid intent, at one point stating that through Apartheid “the future of every race will be protected”. This gave the voters a more reasonable line of argument rather than outward racism so that they felt their desire for separateness was more justified. And so, the policies were even more attractive to the voter and led to the victory of the National Party.
Essentially, the policies gave the overall impression of “putting the kaffir in his place” and “getting “our” country back” – in the words of Herman Giliomee –which was evidently a very popular opinion amongst Afrikaners at the time of the election. Yet, there are further reasons which contributed greatly to the National Party’s win.…...

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