FF Plus defies expectations
The party focused on campaigning against the DA in a bid to win over more conservative Afrikaans voters
The Freedom Front Plus is on track to become the biggest success story of the election as it has shown significant growth and defied the electoral trajectory of other smaller parties.
With more than 59% of the national vote counted on Thursday, the indications were that the opposition benches in the National Assembly would look decidedly different in terms of the smaller parties.
Parties such as the Congress of the People, Agang, the African People’s Convention and the Pan Africanist Congress were annihilated at Wednesday’s polls. This while new parties such as Good and the African Transformation Movement were set to make their way to parliament. But the most extraordinary tale coming from the smaller parties was the growth of the FF Plus, which in the previous elections won only four seats.
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The party, which won 165,715 votes during the 2014 general elections, had by Thursday night garnered more than 237,000 votes with 59% of the vote counted.
The FF Plus received 0.9% of the national share of the votes in 2014, but is projected to receive more than 2% in these elections.
By Thursday afternoon, the FF Plus had already doubled its 2014 support in the Western Cape, Northern Cape and Mpumalanga, while growing its support in North West.
The FF Plus, which is led by Pieter Groenewald, clearly focused on campaigning against the DA in a bid to win over more conservative Afrikaans voters who had previously voted for the official opposition party.
The concerns of these voters included the protection of Afrikaans as well as the DA’s continued support of race-based redress. It is understood that the loss of support to the FF Plus was not unexpected, given a drop in support of white voters for the DA, according to its own pre-election internal poll.
The FF Plus had also siphoned off support from the DA in recent by-elections.
Groenewald told Business Day there was no doubt the FF Plus got the biggest surge in its support from former DA voters. He said his party’s vehement opposition to land expropriation without compensation also contributed to the rise in its support.
James Selfe, DA federal executive chairman, said that if a party wanted to become one for all South Africans “you have to take positions that are inclusive of all South Africans”.
He said a party was therefore less likely to take extreme positions that favour a particular demographic and that the DA had realised this a long time ago.
“We realised that there was a real possibility that we would lose votes to the right wing and indeed lose votes to the left. But that is fine because we have taken votes of the ANC – and that is the essence of democracy,” Selfe said.
He said the DA was not a party for white Afrikaners, for whites, for blacks or for Indians, but for all South Africans.