n Journal of African Elections - The Democratic Alliance and the role of opposition parties in South Africa




In the 2014 election the Democratic Alliance (DA) strengthened its electoral support nationally as well as in the Western Cape province, where it governs. It gained over a million new national votes, increasing its total from 2 945 829 in 2009 to 4 091 548 in 2014. It also unseated the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) as official opposition in KwaZulu-Natal and became the official opposition in the Eastern Cape, Mpumalanga, Northern Cape and Free State, while strengthening its opposition status in Gauteng from 21.86% of the vote in 2009 to 30.78% in 2014. In the Western Cape it gained 59.38% of the vote, an increase from 51.46% in 2009. This article considers whether the DA's 2014 electoral gains suggest a strengthening of opposition politics in South Africa. It focuses on whether the DA meets the obligations of an opposition party with regard to providing an institutional space for counter-political elites to organise and providing a viable alternative to the ruling party together with facilitating debate over political issues and public policy while also performing an oversight role.


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