Courtesy Reuters

South African Swing-over

IN MAY last, the Union of South Africa went to the polls to decide, in the last analysis, whether it would entrust its government for a new period to Field Marshal Smuts and his United Party. This was not a decision for or against liberalism: it was a decision between racial tolerance and good will on the one hand and a reactionary color policy on the other. To the complete surprise of all concerned the Nationalist and Afrikaner Parties -- the coalition opposing Field Marshal Smuts -- managed to secure a majority of five over all other parties in a House of 153. No leading politician or political observer in South Africa predicted this result. It came as a surprise not only to Field Marshal Smuts and his followers, but to the successful Nationalists as well. Dr. Malan, the newly appointed Prime Minister, took several days to form his Cabinet, so little prepared was he for power.

Does this change of government mean a permanent swing-over in South African politics? Will the new Government be able to maintain itself in office? At present it holds 79 seats out of 153 in the House of Assembly, but only 12 seats out of 44 in the Senate. So far as the House of Assembly itself is concerned, the successful parties polled considerably fewer votes than Field Marshal Smuts and his supporters. The small majority which they obtained in the Assembly was one of the consequences of the system by which rural constituencies may return a member on the basis of a total voting population as much as 30 percent below that of an urban constituency. As the Smuts supporters were strongest in the towns and the Malan supporters strongest in the country districts, it happened that a minority of voters elected a precarious majority of members.

The position of the Senate is important. Dr. Malan has the right to ask for a dissolution of the Senate within 120 days of the dissolution of the House of Assembly. Such a dissolution

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