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

Volume 14, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1609-4700



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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