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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Power Politics in the New South Africa
Author:Macdonald, Michael
Periodical:Journal of Southern African Studies
Geographic term:South Africa
political change
African National Congress (South Africa)
National Party
Politics and Government
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/2637058
Abstract:A consensus on South Africa's transition from apartheid is crystallizing. According to it, the ANC and the National Party (NP), which initially opened negotiations reluctantly, were subsequently transformed by the experience. They are said to have developed mutual trust, discounted questions of political power, and agreed to a constitution allowing the new democratic government to commence instituting its political programme. This paper takes exception to this version of events on several scores. It maintains that considerations of power, which vanish from the conventional story, were central to the eventual settlement, and stresses two significant constraints on South Africa's new democracy. The government is exposed to pressure to adopt policies preferred by capital, which exerts steady conservative influence on the ANC. Moreover, the terms negotiated in the interim constitution specifically protect the integrity of established bureaucracies, doubly constraining the democratic government. Conservative State interests fortify conservative economic interests, offsetting the social and economic radicalism of the ANC. The political bargain in South Africa provides protections for interests associated with the NP and blunts the powers of the ANC. Thus, South Africa's political bargain is democratic in form, but is incipiently statist and conservative in substance. Notes, ref., sum.