South African general election, 1989

South African general election, 1989

6 September 1989

All 166 elected seats in the House of Assembly
All 80 elected seats in the House of Representatives
All 40 elected seats in the House of Delegates

  First party Second party Third party
Leader F. W. de Klerk Andries Treurnicht Zach de Beer (pictured), Denis Worrall and Wynand Malan
Party National Party Conservative Party Democratic Party
Last election 123 22 19
Seats won 94 39 33
Seat change 29 17 14

House of Assembly after the 1989 election

Acting State President before election

F. W. de Klerk
National Party

State President

F. W. de Klerk
National Party

This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
South Africa

The 1989 South African general election, held on 6 September of that year, was South Africa's last national race-based parliamentary election. The election was called early (no election was required until 1992) to gauge support for the recently elected head of the National Party, F. W. de Klerk (who was in the process of replacing P. W. Botha as the country's president) and his program of reform, which was to include further retreat from the policy of apartheid.

Although it won an absolute majority, the National Party suffered an electoral setback, winning only 48% of the popular vote and 103 of the seats in the House of Assembly.

The official opposition Conservative Party (CP), who opposed any form of powersharing with other race groups, remained the official opposition with 41 seats and gained 31% of the votes.

Before the elections the liberal Progressive Federal Party (PFP) had dissolved itself and regrouped as the Democratic Party (DP), which won 34 seats.

House of Assembly (White)

Party Votes % Seats
Directly-elected Additional Total +/–
National Party 1,039,70448.2949103−21
Conservative Party 680,13131.539241+19
Democratic Party 431,44420.033134+15
Herstigte Nasionale Party 5,4160.20000
Independent 8980.00000
Invalid/blank votes10,336
Registered voters/turnout3,120,10469.5
Source: IPU

The White Chamber of Parliament had 178 members, 166 of whom were directly elected (including a seat from Walvis Bay, which was added in 1981) with 8 members indirectly elected by the directly elected members on the basis of proportional representation and 4 nominated by the State President (one from each province).[1]

The results of the election were interpreted by the government (based on support for the NP and the DP together) as a mandate from the white electorate to forsake the apartheid system and seek a compromise with the African National Congress and its leader Nelson Mandela.

Donald Simpson, writing in the South African newspaper, The Star, went as far as to predict that the National Party would lose the next election and that the Conservative Party would become the new government of South Africa.[2]

House of Representatives (Coloured)

Party Votes % Seats
Elected Appointed Total +/–
Labour Party171,93065.069574−2
Democratic Reform Party39,74115.2505+5
United Democratic Party19,2617.6303+3
Freedom Party1,9490.71010
Invalid/blank votes2,861
Registered voters/turnout1,439,11218.1
Source: IPU, African Elections Database

House of Delegates (Indian)

Party Votes % Seats
Elected Appointed Total +/–
National People's Party38,52324.9819−9
Democratic Party10,4276.7303+3
National Federal Party8 0585.2101+1
People's Party of South Africa6 0643.9101+2
United Party2 7121.80000
Merit People's Party2 0781.3314+4
Progressive Independent Party1 4971.0000−1
Freedom Party7030.7202+2
Republican Party7010.70000
Independents24 15715.6606+2
Invalid/blank votes1,388
Registered voters/turnout663,60423.3
Source: IPU, African Elections Database


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