Tendencies of a dominant party system in the Free State legislature (1994-2008)
Joannou, N. A.
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Dominant party tendencies exist either when a single party enjoys monopoly of power through the exclusion of other parties, or when the electorate continues to re-elect the same party despite the existence of other political parties. Dominant party systems display various characteristics the tendency to rule for a prolonged period of time; complacency and corruption; competition within the dominant party; a weak and ineffective opposition; and, a blurring of lines between the party and the state. Under the apartheid regime, the National Party dominated the political system. In 1994, through a process of transformation, South Africa held its first democratic election. The African National Congress (ANC) won the election and successive elections, and has since governed by majority. This has led critics to argue that South Africa is becoming a dominant party system. This article discusses dominant party tendencies in the Free State Legislature. In the four elections held since this transformation process of democratisation began, namely 1994, 1999, 2004 and 2009, the ANC dominated the Legislature whilst the opposition remained weak and ineffective, with no viable alternative for the electorate. Despite protests against service delivery and transformation projects, the electorate continued to re-elect the ANC. These tendencies reinforced the pattern of ANC dominance and weak opposition.