Small parties and independents – from also-rans to kingmakers
van Rooyen, Garth
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Small parties and independents play an important role in South Africa’s democracy. It is on the level of the local that these small parties and independents have some chance to make indents in terms of winning a few wards that could turn them into council kingmakers, or at least represent some particular local constituency needs. This chapter examines the multitude of small and micro-parties, as well as independent candidates in the 2011 local government elections. It first features classification-based endeavours to ‘make sense of this multitude of often-neglected but crucial political players in South Africa’. The classifications use the number of contesting candidates and election outcomes as the two classificatory principles. The chapter also explores the increase in contestation by independent candidates. Thereafter it investigates the details of their results, and the reasons for their largely dismal displays in local election 2011. The chapter concludes that while these political actors remain largely in an underworld of small and micro-parties, they retain enthusiasm for electoral contestation, thus continuing to add value to multi-party democracy in South Africa.