Marriages of Inconvenience

The politics of coalitions in South Africa

Published July 2021

Marriages of Inconvenience: The politics of coalitions in South Africa is a research-based volume that collates and interprets lessons that South Africa should take to heart in managing interparty coalitions. It draws from domestic experiences as well as from case studies on the rest of the African continent and generic instances further afield.

Coalitions in various iterations have been a part of the South African polity since the attainment of democracy in 1994. This started, nationally, with a ‘grand coalition’ in the form of a Government of National Unity as mandated in the interim constitution. Coalitions have also found expression in some of the country’s provinces. After the transition, multiparty governments were sustained at national and provincial levels either as a matter of necessity due to election outcomes or for other political considerations.

At local government level, coalitions have been relatively commonplace in South Africa from the onset of democratically elected municipalities in 2000, with many situations where no single party attained an absolute majority. This gained prominence from 2016 when many metropolitan governments and some large towns became sites of coalition politics.

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