The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) recently announced that 48 parties will contest the national elections on 8 May. That is more than the 29 that took part in 2014 – a 65% increase! Will greater participation, however, give South Africa a better democracy?
The astonishing fact is that according to the IEC’s website, there are 312 parties registered at national level, and 294 at provincial level. The number of parties at national level shrank to 48 due to two factors. The first is the IEC’s own selection process, which led to 118 parties being de-registered and 29 applications being rejected. The second factor is that some parties (117) did not pay the registration fee needed to participate in the election. These costs are quite high – R200 000 to participate at national level, and then R45 000 per province. A party that wishes to participate at national level and in all the provinces will therefore have to pay R605 000. A smaller party could find it challenging to raise such a sum.