n Journal for Contemporary History - Parliamentary whips in the modern era : a parliamentary necessity or a historical relic?

Volume 39, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0258-2422
  • E-ISSN: 2415-0509



In the academic literature, very little has been done to chronicle the history and the development of whips in legislatures (parliaments). The lack of material on whips is in spite of the fact that, in political and governing processes, political party whips have a history that stretches back to the 18th century. The purposes of this article are therefore aimed at addressing this gap in the literature and to emphasise the necessary role of political party whips, in South Africa and internationally. The discussion deals with the history and the duties of whips at the parliamentary, provincial and local government levels. The authors outline the historical development of whips and explain how their position has developed from noble beginnings, to the point where they play a critically important role in modern parliaments. The main functions and the selection or election of whips, within their respective legislative bodies and particularly in the South African context are also discussed. The conclusion is reached that whips do play a significant and necessary role in their respective legislative bodies and are of critical importance within a modern political system.

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