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By Editorial staff

Journalist


Small party with some big egos?

CSN's withdrawal from elections prompts reflection on democracy's health amidst growing concerns over small party influence."


It used to be said, rather cruelly, of the Congress of the People (Cope) that the party was no more than “two men and a fax machine.” Its poor results in elections proved that summation to be spot-on, although it did at least get seats in parliament. Cope might well appear as a political colossus compared to most of the 300-odd minnows all trying to access the parliamentary or provincial trough in the upcoming elections. Has South Africa brought the continent to the point where instead of intoning “one man, one vote”, we begin to shout “one person, one party”?…

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It used to be said, rather cruelly, of the Congress of the People (Cope) that the party was no more than “two men and a fax machine.”

Its poor results in elections proved that summation to be spot-on, although it did at least get seats in parliament.

Cope might well appear as a political colossus compared to most of the 300-odd minnows all trying to access the parliamentary or provincial trough in the upcoming elections.

Has South Africa brought the continent to the point where instead of intoning “one man, one vote”, we begin to shout “one person, one party”?

And, following from that, are we not in danger of devaluing the very concept of democracy and elections by allowing so many tiny parties to get into the fray?

Have we not set the barriers to entry to politics too low?

ALSO READ: ‘Barriers’ force Change Starts Now not to contest elections, but willing to back other parties

Those are questions which must be asked in the wake of the announcement that the highly touted (by the media, anyway) Change Starts Now (CSN) organisation has decided to pull out of the election because it does not have enough time to surmount the “barriers” imposed by the Constitutional Court.

According to CSN’s much-interviewed founder, Roger Jardine, these “barriers” mean that the party, “like several other parties, faces a prejudicial, logistical timetable [challenge] to qualify for the ballot”.

The reality? The party needs to assemble 1 000 signatures to comply with registration requirements in the Electoral Amendment Act, which was ordered to be amended by the court.

There are two comments to be made about that plea for sympathy.

First, you started organising too late in the day. That’s not the fault of anyone but yourselves.

Secondly, if you can’t get together a meagre 1 000 people to publicly back you, maybe you’re not as popular as you and some journalists believe you should be.

ALSO READ: ‘The C in Change Starts Now is not for Coloured’

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