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South Africa Table of Contents

South Africa

White Politics

The National Party's legislative program received increasing support from the white electorate. The NP won re-election in 1953 and in 1958, each time with increased majorities. Malan retired in 1955 and was replaced as prime minister by J.G. Strydom, leader of the Transvaal branch of the party. After Strydom's death in 1958, Hendrik F. Verwoerd, the Dutch-born minister of native affairs as well as a former professor of applied psychology and the preeminent proponent of apartheid, became prime minister. The United Party (UP) competed aggressively for white votes by adopting a pro-white platform, by rejecting government expenditures on acquiring more land for African reserves, and by supporting the removal of coloured voters from the common roll. In 1959 the more liberal members of the UP broke away to form the Progressive Federal Party (PFP) but with little impact. Practically all Afrikaners and increasing numbers of English-speaking whites voted for the National Party. In 1960 a majority of white voters, irritated by growing world condemnation of apartheid, especially by the newly independent Asian and African members of the British Commonwealth of Nations, supported Verwoerd's proposal to make South Africa a republic, whereupon it left the Commonwealth. In the 1961 general election, the NP won 105 seats, the UP forty-five, and the PFP only one.

Black Resistance in the 1950s

Data as of May 1996