Friday, May 20, 2011

Some political parties will have to rethink either their strategy or their existence

vote

Image courtesy
Amazingly Pretty and Somewhat Literary

Once again, South Africans have gone to the polls and have made their decision as to which political party they prefer to run their respective municipalities in this country.

At the end of any election cycle, it isn’t always easy to analyse the data, since you do not actually know what the voters were thinking while they voted. As a result, you simply sit with raw data. So, in order to make sense of the raw data, you have to extrapolate from past election cycles into the present and then try to predict what the future holds.

At this point, I am sure many political parties must be thinking about the future. Some parties have had a downward slide for several years now.

Since 1994, we have had 4 general elections (GE) and 3 local government elections (LGE). LGEs are simply municipal elections.

Concerning LGE2011, of all votes cast, only 5 parties received more than 1% of the vote (at 09:00 on 20 May 2011): ANC (63.49%), DA (22.28%), IFP (3.91%), NFP (2.52%), COPE (2.39%). The rest of the 122 or so parties all received less than 1% of the vote! These are those that received more than 0.5%, but less than 1%: Independents (0.87%), UDM (0.71%), ACDP (0.61%). Independents are individual candidates not related to political parties. That means that 114 parties all received less than 0.5% of the votes cast. I am not always so sure that so many parties are good for democracy. Some of these parties seem to be just a laugh a minute (or election cycle). I sometimes think that when there are too many political parties, especially in a country that is relatively small such as South Africa, it only muddies the political waters.

As an example of too many options: Back in January 1999 my family and I moved to the U.S.A. for two years. We arrived there at night and checked into a local Inn in Columbus, Ohio. The next morning we wanted to have breakfast, so I decided to take a walk to the nearest Kroger’s about 500m from where we stayed. When I arrived there to buy some cereal, I simply stood there in amazement. I couldn’t believe that there were so many different cereals in the world, never mind in one store! With all those cereals to choose from, I ended up taking what I knew, corn flakes! In many ways I think it is the same when there are too many political parties that simply make the choice too difficult. In the end people vote for what they know, not what is best!

As someone that has voted ACDP since 1994, and have served within the ranks of the ACDP and stood as a candidate in the LGE2006, I would like to throw around some thoughts. In the table below are the results of all elections since 1994 and how the ACDP performed.

YEAR

ELECTION  TYPE

% OF VOTE

1994

GE

0.45

1999

GE

1.43

2000

LGE

1.14

2004

GE

1.60

2006

LGE

1.24*

2009

GE

0.81*

2011

LGE

0.61

As can be seen, there is a definite downward trend with regards to the percentage of votes the ACDP has garnered since 2004. 2004 was obviously the highpoint for the ACDP, and now, after 17 years of existence, has almost dropped down to its lowest point back at the start of its existence. This certainly does not bode well for the ACDP, and indeed for Christian Democratic politics in South Africa. At 0.61% the ACDP received just under 200,000 combined votes, while the ANC received over 20,500,000 votes and the DA over 7,200,000 votes. Therefore, the ACDP did not even get 1/100 of what the ANC got. The combined total votes of all parties with the word “Christian” in their names, comes to only 264,321 combined votes! Combined, that is slightly more than 1/100 of the votes for the ANC. This only raises the total percentage of combined votes for “Christian” parties to 0.81%!fail

The obvious question with regards to Christian Democratic politics in South Africa is, Does South Africa even want to consider Christian politics? For some reason I think us Christian Democrats are deluding ourselves to think that we can even become proper oppositions to the ruling party in South Africa, never mind taking over the government! Back in July 2010, Markinor, a polling and statistics organization conducted a poll in South Africa regarding political allegiances. This poll showed an increase to 1.2% of voters as against the 2009 election results of 0.81% for the ACDP. Of course, Kenneth Meshoe was very happy about this increase and said the following:

"The Markinor results are very pleasing and show the ACDP to be growing which is not evident for other opposition parties.

"This growth confirms that the ACDP is the party of the future; we believe the DA has reached its glass ceiling and note recent comments by various political analysts who stated that the ID would have ceased to exist had it not joined up with the DA.
"

Of course, the poll proved nothing of what Meshoe thought it proved. In fact, the opposite happened with LGE2011. The DA seems to be the only growing party while the ACDP is bouncing back from the ceiling down to earth. In fact, it seems that people are leaving other parties to vote DA, against the ANC!

If all that LGE2011 proves, is that the Christian Democrats (C-Dems) must rethink their strategy or their participation. With a continued downward trend for the C-Dems in the last seven years, those are their only options. Change strategy, or board up the doors and windows. Of course, they will all claim some type of “mandate” from God (whether true or not for them), hence they will continue their very sparse existence, and as a result will have to change strategy, since their current strategies are failing big-time!

The thing is, politicians are very scared of failure! Maybe they are scared that people would not like them, and crave these votes. Who knows what goes on in the mind of individual politicians anyway?

You see, when it comes to Christian politics, we trend to forget that God is in control, that he is absolute, and that He is sovereign, even in elections! The voters are not sovereign and neither is the government of the day! Our trust must be, and can only be, in the Lord Jesus Christ!

As I concluded in this post, I also want to conclude here:

“(11) Then I saw heaven opened, and there was a white horse!
its rider is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He
judges and makes war. His eyes were like a fiery flame, and on His
head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knows except
Himself. 13) He wore a robe stained with blood, and His name is called the
Word of God. (14) The armies that were in heaven followed Him on white horses,
wearing pure white linen. (15) From His mouth came a sharp sword, so that
with it He might strike the nations. He will shepherd them with an iron
scepter. He will also trample the winepress of the fierce anger of
God, the Almighty. (16) And on His robe and on His thigh He has
a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS”
(Rev 19:11-16 HCSB)

or

“(17) Though the fig tree does not bud
and there is no fruit on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls, (18) yet I will triumph in the Lord;
I will rejoice in the God of my salvation! (19) Yahweh my Lord is my strength;
He makes my feet like those of a deer
and enables me to walk on mountain heights!”

(Hab 3:17-19 HCSB)

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