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1915 South African general election

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

1915 South African general election

← 1910 20 October 1915 (1915-10-20) 1920 →

All 130 seats in the House of Assembly
  First party Second party
Leader Louis Botha Thomas Smartt
Party South African Unionist
Leader's seat Losberg Fort Beaufort
Last election 66 seats 36 seats
Seats won 54 39
Seat change Decrease 12 Increase 3
Popular vote 94,285 49,917
Percentage 36.67% 19.41%

  Third party Fourth party
Hertzog JBM.jpg
Kolonel Cresswell.jpg
Leader J. B. M. Hertzog Frederic Creswell
Party National Labour
Leader's seat Smithfield Bezuidenhout (defeated)
Last election 3 seats
Seats won 27 4
Seat change New Increase 1
Popular vote 75,623 24,755
Percentage 29.41% 9.63%

Prime Minister before election

Louis Botha
South African

Elected Prime Minister

Louis Botha
South African

General elections were held in South Africa on 20 October 1915 to elect the 130 members of the House of Assembly. This was the second Union Parliament. The governing South African Party (SAP) of General Louis Botha emerged from the elections as the largest party, but did not receive an overall majority.

Botha formed a minority government, which survived with some parliamentary support from the official opposition Unionist Party.[1]

Delimitation of electoral divisions

The South Africa Act 1909 had provided for a delimitation commission to define the boundaries for each electoral division. The representation by province, under the second delimitation report of 1913, is set out in the table below. The figures in brackets are the number of electoral divisions in the previous (1910) delimitation. If there is no figure in brackets then the number was unchanged.[2]

Provinces Cape Natal Orange Free State Transvaal Total
Divisions 51 17 17 45 (36) 130 (121)


Since the last general election, the National Party (NP) had split away from the South African Party (SAP). The formal foundation of the new party had been in 1914.

Eight of the 130 seats were uncontested. There were unopposed returns for 5 Unionist Party, 2 SAP and 1 NP candidates.

In the 122 contested constituencies, the candidates nominated included 86 SAP, 83 NP, 39 Unionist and 49 Labour.[3]

Party attitudes

General Botha stood for a policy of conciliation between Afrikaans and English speaking white people. The SAP was mostly supported by moderates of both races. General Hertzog led a republican party which supported a two streams policy – the two white races developing separately. The Unionists were anxious to maintain the imperial connection. The Unionists accordingly preferred the continuation in power of the SAP to the prospect of an NP government.[4]


The vote totals in the table below may not give a complete picture of the balance of political opinion, because of unopposed elections (where no votes were cast) and because most contested seats were not fought by a candidate from all major parties.

The 27 NP candidates elected represented three of the four provinces - 7 from Cape Province, 16 from the Orange Free State and 4 from Transvaal.[5]

South African House of Assembly 1915.svg
South African Party94,28536.6754–12
National Party75,62329.4127New
Unionist Party49,91719.4239+3
Labour Party24,7559.634+1
Socialist League1400.050New
Valid votes257,10398.34
Invalid/blank votes4,3301.66
Total votes261,433100.00
Registered voters/turnout365,30771.57
Source: Nohlen et al.[6]


  • The Rise of the South African Reich, by Brian Bunting (first published by Penguin Africa Library in 1964 and revised in 1969) accessed on an ANC website 3 August 2010
  • South Africa 1982 Official Yearbook of the Republic of South Africa, published by Chris van Rensburg Publications
  • The South African Constitution, by H.J. May (3rd edition 1955, Juta & Co)
  1. ^ The Times, edition of 18 October 1915; in an article on the election refers to the Ministerialist (ie South African) Party and the Unionist Party, only contesting three constituencies against each other in three cornered fights, "these two parties having laid aside their differences until the war is over".
  2. ^ South Africa 1982, p. 129
  3. ^ The Times, edition of 18 October 1915.
  4. ^ The South African Constitution, p. 134.
  5. ^ The Rise of the South African Reich, Chapter 1: The Birth of the National Party
  6. ^ Dieter Nohlen, Michael Krennerich & Bernhard Thibaut (1999) Elections in Africa: A data handbook, pp. 830–835 ISBN 0-19-829645-2
This page was last edited on 10 February 2021, at 04:52
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