South African Party

The South African Party (Afrikaans: Suid-Afrikaanse Party, Dutch: Zuidafrikaanse Partij[lower-alpha 1]) was a political party that existed in the Union of South Africa from 1911 to 1934.

South African Party
Afrikaans: Suid-Afrikaanse Party
Dutch: Zuidafrikaanse Partij[lower-alpha 1]
Leader (s)Louis Botha,
Jan Smuts,
Barry Hertzog
Founded21 November 1910 (1910-11-21)
Dissolved4 December 1934 (1934-12-04)
Merger ofHet Volk
South African Party
Afrikaner Bond
Orangia Unie
Merged intoUnited Party
IdeologyLiberal conservatism
White nationalism
Afrikaners' interests
Political positionRight-wing
International affiliationNone
Colours  Light blue


The outline and foundation for the party was realized after the election of a 'South African party' in the 1910 South African general election under the leadership of Louis Botha. It was made up predominantly of Afrikaner parties:

  • Het Volk from the Transvaal
  • Afrikaner Bond and South African Party from the Cape Colony
  • Orangia Unie from the Orange River Colony

The South African Party of the Cape Colony was launched by William Schreiner, the former attorney-general under the leadership of Cecil Rhodes. The party was intended to project a more moderate platform than that of the Afrikaner Bond. This party also advocated more peaceful relations with neighboring states, especially the Transvaal. Schreiner originally formed the party to oppose the "personal domination of Mr. Rhodes." Eventually, the Afrikaner Bond would lend their support to form a new government.[1]

Initially its main political opposition came from Unionist Party, which supported similar policies, but was more English-speaking and took an instinctively pro-British stance.

The SAP would solidify after the departure of Barry Hertzog and more radical Boer nationalists who formed the National Party.

Rising discontent with the economic policies of the SAP during the bad economic times of the early 1920s culminated in a general strike in 1922. Though a combination of military intervention and negotiation ended the strike, the memory of it remained when the government, now a SAP-Unionist coalition government under the leadership of Jan Smuts, faced the 1924 South African general election, in which it was defeated by a National-Labour coalition. The SAP remained in opposition with its Unionist allies until the unrest of the Great Depression forced Prime Minister Barry Hertzog[2] of the Nationalists to form a coalition government and on 5 December 1934 a merger which created the United South African National Party (more commonly known as the United Party).

From the beginning, an hardliner nationalist faction refused to accept the merger. The remaining nationalists later withdrew from the United Party in 1939, after which what remained was essentially the old SAP under a new name. Nevertheless, the United Party name was retained.

Electoral history

House of Assembly elections

Election Party leader Votes % Seats +/– Position Result
1910 Louis Botha 30,052 28.45%
67 / 121
67 1st Majority government
1915 94,285 36.67%
54 / 130
15 1st Majority government
1920 Jan Smuts 101,227 36.48%
41 / 134
13 2nd Minority government
1921 137,389 49.90%
77 / 134
11 1st Majority government
1924 148,769 47.04%
53 / 135
24 2nd Opposition
1929 159,896 46.50%
61 / 148
8 2nd Opposition
1933 71,486 22.34%
61 / 150
2nd Opposition


  1. Contemporary Dutch spelling used in South Africa from 1905 to 1925. Modern Dutch spelling: Zuid-Afrikaanse Partij


  1. Meredith, Martin (2007). Diamonds, Gold, and War: The British, the Boers, and the Making of South Africa. New York: Public Affairs. ISBN 978-1-4587-1983-6. Archived from the original on 17 February 2017.
  2. Joyce, Peter. 1989. The South African Family Encyclopaedia
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