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Susan Booysen, "The Will of the Parties Versus the Will of the People? Defections, Elections and Alliances in South Africa," Party Politics, 12 (November, 2006), 727-746.

First Paragraph:
In the period 2000 to 2004, South Africa's political parties became embroiled in a chain of alliance and defection events that reshaped power balances nationally and in two of the nine provinces and a range of local governments. Initially, there were outcries against both the 2003 amendment of the South African Constitution to create window periods for defection, and the resulting disproportionality of representation. The concerns related to the fact that significant representational changes happened via non-electoral channels and between elections. The parameters of this debate shifted when, in 2004, election results reinforced the imbalances that had been manifested through defections and party alliances. These cumulative changes in party representational strength suggested that elections and defections-alliances had worked in tandem to accelerate a reconfiguration of party politics in South Africa.

Figures and Tables:
Table 1. Changes in national representation of parties in parliament, 1999 to 2004
Table 2. Provincial change in party representation: Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal 1999 to 2004

Last Paragraph:
There are indications that the scope of South Africa's party political tumult of the 2000 to 2004 period was transitory: by early 2006 the NNP's previously available support bloc would have ceased to exist, and with the stabilization of the DA and the consolidation of ANC support it seemed increasingly unlikely that either of the two major parties would suffer largescale defections. Periods of major realignment and floor-crossing will probably be reserved for future, more distant dissolutions of major voter blocs, should the practice persist.

last updated February 2007