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1970 South African general election

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

1970 South African general election

← 1966 22 April 1970 (1970-04-22) 1974 →

All 166 seats in the House of Assembly
Turnout74.35% (Increase 5.87pp)
  First party Second party Third party
John Vorster.jpg
Sir De Villiers Graaff (cropped).jpg
Parlementslede van die Progressiewe Party 1960 (cropped).jpg
Leader B. J. Vorster De Villiers Graaff Jan Steytler
Party National United Progressive
Last election 126 seats, 58.31% 39 seats, 36.62% 1 seat, 3.05%
Seats won 118 47 1
Seat change Decrease 8 Increase 8 Steady 0
Popular vote 820,968 553,280 51,760
Percentage 54.89% 36.94% 3.43%

Prime Minister before election

B. J. Vorster

Elected Prime Minister

B. J. Vorster

General elections were held in South Africa on 22 April 1970 to elect members of the 166-seat House of Assembly. Parliament was dissolved on 2 March and the deadline for the submission of candidates was 13 March. This was the first time in South African history that the House elected was responsible entirely to white people, as the seats of the four MPs elected separately by "qualified" Cape Coloured voters expired in the same year, heralding the completion of the process of political apartheid. Similarly, it was the first election after the expulsion of Albert Hertzog and many verkrampte (hardline) representatives from the ruling National Party in 1969, who formed the new opposition Herstigte Nasionale Party (Reconstituted National Party) in opposition, with limited success.

The National Party (NP) won another election, for the first time under the leadership of John Vorster. Several new representatives were elected, including Chris Heunis, future Acting President and Pik Botha, future Minister of Foreign Affairs for 17 years, who made his maiden speech demanding that the government sign the UN Declaration of Human Rights.[1]

Given the split with both liberal camps and arch-conservative NP supporters, the government lost support in parliament for the first time since the 1948 election, its caucus being reduced by eight seats. While Hertzog's HNP did not win any seats, the split in the nationalist voter base benefitted the moderate United Party (UP) in some constituencies. On an ideological spectrum, the HNP (using the NP:s old acronym from the 1940s) was a psychological and cultural loss, with stalwart Afrikaner leader and NP founder JBM Hertzog's son denouncing the government for becoming bloated and moderate and having abandoned the goals of the Afrikaner nationalist movement in favour of economic and diplomatic realities. The result thus marked a realignment, with white voters jointly backing a moderate NP with a considerable majority, while the restoration of an Afrikaner homeland was abandoned as unachievable and anachronistic.

Following decolonisation, now burgeoning, Vorster attempted to pursue a policy of peaceful coexistence between the white minority government and Black independent neighbours (in 1970 only Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland) as well as the greatest possible solidarity between Anglophone Whites and Boers, seen as pragmatic and antithetical to the goals of NP stalwarts of creating an Afrikaans-language republic for the Boers and their descendants, with other whites as (comparatively) privileged resident citizens, but outside the boundaries of the "chosen" people.

Helen Suzman, member of parliament for Houghton, retained her seat as the sole representative of the liberal Progressive Party.

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Eleven members were elected unopposed. Voting in one constituency did not take place, with the National Party winning the subsequent by-election to give it a total of 118 seats.[2]

South African House of Assembly 1970.svg
National Party822,03454.89117–9
United Party553,28036.9447+8
Herstigte Nasionale Party53,7353.590New
Progressive Party51,7423.4510
United National South West Party8,3960.5600
National Alliance Party2,2610.150New
Independent Nationalist1,4930.100New
Independent National Party1,1140.070New
Democratic National Party3940.030New
Front Party740.0000
Valid votes1,497,65299.34
Invalid/blank votes9,9820.66
Total votes1,507,634100.00
Registered voters/turnout2,161,23469.76
Source: Potgieter[3]


  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 1 October 2010. Retrieved 28 September 2011.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ South Africa Inter-Parliamentary Union
  3. ^ Dirk J. Potgieter (1971) Standard Encyclopaedia of Southern Africa, Volume 4, p273
This page was last edited on 12 February 2021, at 20:31
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