The contest for the leadership of the UK’s Conservative Party has proved controversial — and not just because of the alarming cast of characters involved. A relatively small number of activists from just one political party will shortly decide who will become the next prime minister of their country. The skewed nature of the internal party electorate — relatively elderly, anti-European, and penetrated by hard right elements — is dragging political argument dramatically to the right and increasing the prospects of a disorderly Brexit. 

In SA, many citizens also believe the people as a whole should take part in the election of their country’s leader. In their view, citizens could grant President Cyril Ramaphosa the mandate and authority the ANC supposedly denies him. The reality, however, is almost certainly otherwise. A cursory survey of the world’s current national leaders reveals a frightening array of populists with “personal mandates”. In the world’s richest country, a dang...

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