New National Party (South Africa)
|New National Party|
|Leader||Marthinus van Schalkwyk|
|Preceded by||National Party|
|Merged into||African National Congress|
|Politics of South Africa
|This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
The New National Party (NNP) was a South African conservative political party formed in 1997 when the National Party pulled out of the Government of National Unity with the African National Congress and decided to change its name in the process. The name change was an attempt to distance itself from its apartheid past, and reinvent itself as a moderate, non-racial federal party. The attempt was largely unsuccessful and the New National Party voted to disband itself in 2005.
Its first leader was former president of South Africa F. W. de Klerk, the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize along with Nelson Mandela, for his role in dismantling apartheid. De Klerk was succeeded by Marthinus van Schalkwyk until the eventual disbanding and merger with the African National Congress.
The New National Party had some difficulty carving out a political base in post-apartheid South Africa. On the one hand, the NNP still had the legacy of its role under apartheid. On the other hand, it seemed uncertain about its relationship with the government under the African National Congress and seemed unable to decide whether it was in a political alliance with the ANC or in opposition. These two issues led to defections to the Democratic Party which had a historical legacy of being anti-apartheid and was clearly an opposition party to the ANC.
The 1999 South African general election saw the party losing much of its support as well as its status as official opposition nationally and in most provinces. It remained influential however in the Western Cape despite being pushed into second place there by the African National Congress. One big aim of the party remained; to regain its position as the dominant in the Western Cape. The NNP was also part of a short-lived alliance with the Democratic Party for which purpose the Democratic Party changed its name into Democratic Alliance. After leaving the alliance, the NNP allied itself with the ruling ANC.
Decline and merger with the ANC
During the 2004 South African general election, NNP was all but wiped out. Much of their support deserted the party due to unhappiness with their alliance with the ANC, and their portion of the national vote dropped from 6.9% in 1999 to 1.9% (it was 20.4% as the National Party in 1994). The party was pushed into a distant third place behind the Democratic Alliance in its former stronghold in the Western Cape which put big questions on the future of the party.
With the former governing party now only the sixth largest in the country, questions were asked about its long term future, and the leadership of van Schalkwyk. Despite his party's poor performance in the polls, van Schalkwyk was given the cabinet post of Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, as a reward for aligning the NNP with the ANC.
The NNP Federal Council voted 88 to 2 to disband during its assembly on 9 April 2005. It also settled its outstanding R5,2 million debt with the Absa Group Limited, in preparation for dissolution.
As of 5 August, 2005, all NNP members of parliament became members of the ANC, in accordance with South African parliamentary floor crossing legislation (a series of laws which, prior to 2009, allowed politicians, elected on one party ticket, to defect to other parties).
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