n Journal of Law, Society and Development - Politics-law convergence or divergence? 'small' political parties, realpolitik and South Africa's 20 years of democracy




This article examines South Africa's 20-year democracy by contextualising the roles of the 'small' political parties that contested South Africa's 2014 elections. Through the prism of South Africa's Constitution, electoral legislation and the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance, it examines these parties' roles in South Africa's democratisation; their influence, if any, in parliament, and whether they play any role in South Africa's continental orinternational engagements. Based on a review of the extant literature, official documents, legislation, media, secondary research, reports and the results of South Africa's elections, the article relies on game theory, rational choice theory and theories of democracy and democratic consolidation to examine 'small' political parties' roles in the country's political and legal systems. It concludes that the roles of 'small' parties in governance and democracy deserve greater recognition than is currently the case, but acknowledges the extreme difficulty experienced by the 'small' parties in playing a significant role in democratic consolidation, given their formidable opponent in a one-party dominant system.


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