South African Party (Union of South Africa)


South African Party (Union of South Africa)

The South African Party was a political party that existed in the Union of South Africa from 1911 to 1934. The outline and foundation for the party was realized after the election of a 'South African party' in the 1910 South African general election under the leadership of Louis Botha. It was made up predominately of Afrikaner parties:
* Het Volk from the Transvaal
* Afrikaner Bond from the Cape Colony
* Orangia Unie from the Orange River Colony

The South African Party was launched by William Schreiner, the former attourney-general under the leadership of Cecil Rhodes. The party was intended to project a more moderate platform than that of the Afrikaner Bond. This party also advocated more peaceful relations with neighboring states, especially the Transvaal. Schreiner orginially formed the party to oppose the "personal domination of Mr. Rhodes." Eventually, the Afrikaner Bond would lend their support to form a new government. [Martin Meredith, "Diamonds, Gold and War" (New York: Public Affairs, 2007), 380-1.]

Initially its main political opposition came from Unionist Party, which supported similar policies, but was more English-speaking and took an instinctively pro-British stance.

The SAP would solidify after the departure of James Hertzog and more radical Boer nationalists who formed the National Party.

Rising discontent with the economic policies of the SAP during the bad economic times of the early 1920s culminated in a general strike in 1922. Though a combination of military intervention and negotiation ended the strike, the memory of it remained when the government, now a SAP-Unionist coalition government under the leadership of Jan Smuts, faced the 1924 South African general election, in which it was defeated by a National-South African Labour Party coalition. The SAP remained in opposition with its Unionist allies until the unrest of the Great Depression forced Prime Minister James Hertzog of the Nationals to form a coalition government and on December 5 1934 a merger into the United South African National Party.


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