Practical implications for the electoral system: New Nation Movement NPC v President of the Republic of South Africa

Author: Loammi Wolf

ISSN: 1996-2177
Affiliations: Research Advisor, UFS Centre for Human Rights, University of the Free State
Source: South African Law Journal, Volume 138 Issue 1, p. 58-87


In New Nation Movement NPC v President of the Republic of South Africa, the Constitutional Court declared parts of the Electoral Act 73 of 1998 unconstitutional in so far as the Act does not provide for independent candidates to stand for political office in the national and provincial legislatures. The court has given the National Assembly two years to redesign the electoral system. Given the constitutional and logistical constraints, the legislature will probably not be able to avoid a major electoral reform. It will be very hard to justify that voters may select a candidate of their choice only when such a candidate runs as an independent but not when a candidate elects to run on a party ticket. The best option would therefore be to introduce a mixed electoral system which combines constituency-based elections with proportional representation of political parties. To keep ballots manageable it would be appropriate to use other electoral design tools such as an entrance hurdle for political parties and deposits and/or nominations by registered voters supporting independent candidates as well. Such a reform might contribute to weed out candidates tainted by corruption because the capacity of political parties to shield them from the electorate in closed lists where the voters have no say about which candidates get elected will be constrained.