oa Historia - The United Party and the 1953 General election

Volume 36, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0018-229X



The primary reason for the United Party's 1948 General Election defeat had been poor organisation. In order to regain power, therefore, the United Party stressed organisational reform while making expedient adjustments to its paternalistic race policy so as to retain the support of marginal voters. But the United Party's tendency to give ground and yet demand the protection of individual rights and the observance of constitutional guarantees made the Party an easy target for government manipulation. The United Party's task was made even more difficult as a consequence of the Citizenship Act of 1949, which removed potential electoral support from it, and by the National Party's victory in the 1950 parliamentary elections in South-West Africa. Seen against this background the United Party initiative in encouraging the establishment of the War Veterans' Torch Commando in reaching an electoral pact with the Labour Party, and in implementing considerable structural reforms as a result of its informal alliance with financial and mining interests, failed to halt the swing of marginal voters away from it. After the 1953 General Election there was a widespread perception that never again could the opposition electorate be mobilised to mount such a concerted effort. The result was demoralisation and a withdrawal of financial contributions to the United Party.

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