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1943 South African general election

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

1943 South African general election

← 1938 7 July 1943 (1943-07-07) 1948 →

All 150 general roll seats in the House of Assembly
Turnout79.49% Increase
  First party Second party
Genl JC Smuts.jpg
DFMalanPortret (cropped).jpg
Leader Jan Smuts D. F. Malan
Party United Reunited National
Last election 53.81%, 111 seats
Seats won 89 43
Seat change Decrease22 New
Popular vote 435,297 321,601
Percentage 49.68% 36.70%

  Third party Fourth party
Walter Madeley.jpg
Charles Stallard.jpg
Leader Walter Madeley Charles Stallard
Party Labour Dominion
Last election 3 seats, 5.87% 8 seats, 6.32%
Seats won 9 7
Seat change Increase6 Decrease1
Popular vote 38,206 29,023
Percentage 4.36% 3.31%

Prime Minister before election

Jan Smuts

Elected Prime Minister

Jan Smuts

General elections were held in South Africa on 7 July 1943 to elect the 150 members of the House of Assembly.[1] The United Party of Jan Smuts won an absolute majority.

Although the United Party was victorious, special wartime circumstances such as soldiers on active service being allowed to vote and Smuts's status as an international statesman probably exaggerated the depth and level of attachment to the United Party.

The elections might also have understated Afrikaner support for nationalist policies, as many newly urbanised Afrikaners had not registered as voters. In addition, the infighting between the various Afrikaner political factions reduced their support during the election. However, this election was the beginning of the rise of D. F. Malan as the dominant spokesman for Afrikanerdom, which would come to fruition in the 1948 elections.


There were significant changes to the South African party system, during the 1938-1943 Parliament.

The United Party split in 1939, over the issue of South Africa's participation in the Second World War. The Prime Minister since 1924, General J. B. M. Hertzog, advocated neutrality. The then Deputy Prime Minister, General Jan Smuts, supported South African involvement in the war. The cabinet were evenly split on the issue, which had to be resolved by a Parliamentary vote.

Smuts won the vote in the House of Assembly. He was then called upon to form a government. A wartime coalition ministry was appointed. The Smuts cabinet included pro-war members of the United Party, as well as the leaders of the Dominion and Labour parties.

Hertzog and some of his followers left the United Party and created the People Party (VP - Volksparty). This group merged with the Purified National Party (GNP - Gesuiwerde Nasionale Party), to form the Reunited National Party (HNP - Herenigde Nasionale Party). Hertzog was the first leader of the new party, from January 1940, but later in the year Hertzog resigned after falling out with his new colleagues and some of his followers then formed the Afrikaner Party.

Another Nationalist politician and former cabinet minister, Oswald Pirow, formed the New Order. This was at first a faction within the GNP, but later became a new far right party.[2]

Native representative members

The first term of the (white MPs) elected to represent black voters, from special electoral districts in Cape Province under the Representation of Natives Act 1936, expired on 30 June 1942. These seats were not vacated by a dissolution of Parliament, so they were not contested at the 1943 general election for the 150 general roll seats.

The three representative seats were filled by elections on different dates in the second half of 1942 (19 August 1942, 26 October 1942 and 29 October 1942). Three Independent MPs were returned. The term of these members expired on 30 June 1948 (the first 30 June to fall after five years from the date of election).[3]

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 eighth delimitation report of 1942, is set out in the table below. The figures in brackets are the number of electoral divisions in the previous (1937) delimitation. If there is no figure in brackets then the number was unchanged.[4]

Provinces Cape Natal Orange Free State Transvaal Total
Divisions 56 (59) 16 14 (15) 64 (60) 150

The above table does not include the three native representative seats in Cape Province, which were not included in the delimitation of the general roll seats under the South Africa Act 1909.


South African House of Assembly 1943.svg
United Party435,29749.6889–22
Herenigde Nasionale Party321,60136.7043New
Labour Party38,2064.369+6
Dominion Party29,0233.317–1
Afrikaner Party15,6011.780New
Socialist Party6,3500.720–1
Native Representative Members30
Valid votes876,26398.94
Invalid/blank votes9,3601.06
Total votes885,623100.00
Registered voters/turnout1,114,11079.49
Source: African Elections Database

By province

Party Cape Natal Orange FS Transvaal Total
United Party 35 6 1 47 89
Herenigde Nasionale Party 19 0 13 11 43
Labour Party 1 2 0 6 9
Dominion Party 1 6 0 0 7
Afrikaner Party 0 0 0 0 0
Socialist Party 0 0 0 0 0
Independents 0 2 0 0 2
Total 56 16 14 64 150
Source: Keesings[5]


  • Keesing's Contemporary Archives
  • Smuts: A Reappraisal, by Bernard Friedman (George, Allen & Unwin 1975) ISBN 0-04-920045-3
  • 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 South African Election". The Spectator. London. 2 July 1943. Retrieved 21 February 2016.
  2. ^ Smuts: A Reappraisal
  3. ^ ‘'The Overseas Reference Book of the Union of South Africa'’ (Todd Publishing published c. 1943) (dates of election); The South African Constitution, pp 101-109 (for the details of the native representative seats)
  4. ^ South Africa 1982, page 129 (table setting out delimitations of seats by province, the relevant one being that of 1942)
  5. ^ Keesing's Contemporary Archives 1943-1946, pp6005–6008
This page was last edited on 10 December 2020, at 16:11
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