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Important seminar in an election year
Coalitions in Local Government

This was the topic of a hugely informative seminar held by our partners from the Dullah Omar Institute at the University at the Western Cape. Highly experienced speakers shared crucial facts and nuanced analysis on South African reality and international practice of coalition forming and governance.

Speaker image: Wayne Sussmann, Elections Analyst

Wayne Sussmann, Elections Analyst


Great interest in this crucial topic

Almost 100 participants had joined the very focussed, insightful online conversation. 

On the panel of diverse experts were Jaap de Visser (Director of the Dullah Omar Institute), Wayne Sussman (election analyst), Jennica Beukes (doctoral researcher, DOI) and James Selfe (Member of Parliament for the Democratic Alliance (DA)). Michelle Maziwisa (post-doctoral researcher, DOI) facilitated the discussion. 

Questions from the audience were discussed in a lively debate as well. 

Speaker image: Jennica Beukes, Doctoral researcher, Dullah Omar Institute

Jennica Beukes, Doctoral researcher, Dullah Omar Institute


History and current practice analysed in international context

Prof. Jaap de Visser explained how changes from an inclusive model to a winner-takes-all system with executive mayors led to more instability in councils. Questions to be explored include a regulation of the negotiating processes, transparency of agreements and a convention on which party the mayor should come from. Favouring the party with the most votes in this regard seems to potentially promote stability, compared to a system where small parties become "king makers" and can provide the mayor as well.  Wayne Sussman decribed trends in rather fragmented South African coalition politics, referring to many practical examples. Jennica Beukes introduced her analysis of the South African system and realities against the backdrop of international practice. 

Speaker image: James Selfe, MP, Head of Governance Unit, Democratic Alliance

James Selfe, MP, Head of Governance Unit, Democratic Alliance


Rich reflections on experience from perspective of Democratic Alliance

James Selfe shared varied experience from his many years of work with the Democratic Alliance. He emphasized the need for exceptional leadership skills in complex situations at the local level which are at times hard to come by. From his perspective, smaller parties have in some situations caused the collapse of coalitions when their own "nefarious" interests were not fulfilled, often blaming the larger DA. He explained that it was clearly crucial to set realistic targets - and he acknowledged that all-important communication from his party with representatives of other parties involved needed to be somewhat improved.