oa Historia - Eastern Cape political alignments and re-alignments

Volume 35, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0018-229X



This article explores the changing bases of the main political alignments in the Eastern Cape in the early years of the Cape parliament. How did political groupings form and cohere? By what assumptions, ideologies or objectives were each of them informed? What techniques were employed to mobilize support? And how did power and influence shift from one group, class or interest to another? The study reveals something of the great multiplicity of forces and interests at work and their interactions in a very complex political chemistry. Three widely differing case studies are analysed and contrasted: the ""frontier party"", which was the dominant political group during this period and which was based upon the British Settler and Wesleyan communities under the leadership of the mercantile elite of the frontier towns; the Stockenstr�mites, drawn from an extraordinarily wide range of personal supporters of Sir Andries Stockenstr�m from virtually every sector of a very diverse Colonial community; and the ""Port Elizabeth-Graaff-Reinet axis"", which evolved in relation to the expansion of trade routes and railways between the coast and the emerging ""midlands"". By 1858 yet another political grouping had begun to appear - the landowners, whose constituency cut across all the existing groupings. Further in-depth studies of these processes of realignment and regional variation in the subsequent years could contribute much to our understanding of the changing contours of the political culture of this formative period in the development of Cape society.

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