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Conservative Party (South Africa)

Conservative Party of South Africa
Konserwatiewe Party van Suid-Afrika
Leader Andries Treurnicht
Ferdinand Hartzenberg
Founded 1982, merged into the Freedom Front in 2003
Headquarters Cape Town
Ideology Conservatism
Separate Development
Afrikaner nationalism
National conservatism
Political position Right-wing to Far-right
International affiliation N/A
Politics of South Africa
Political parties

The Conservative Party of South Africa (Konserwatiewe Party van Suid-Afrika in Afrikaans) was a conservative party formed in 1982 as a breakaway from the ruling National Party. Led by Andries Treurnicht, a former Dutch Reformed Church minister popularly known as 'Doctor No', it drew support from white South Africans, mostly Boer/Afrikaners in the rural heartlands of South Africa, who opposed Prime Minister PW Botha's reforms, which they saw as a threat to white minority rule, and the racial segregation known as Separate Development. It became the official opposition in the whites-only Parliament in the elections of 6 May 1987, when it surpassed the liberal Progressive Federal Party.

In the general election 1989, the last before multi-racial elections, the party strengthened its vote to 31.52% of the white electorate and 41 seats in the House of Assembly.

In the local elections of 1987 the Conservative Party won 60 municipalities out of 110 in the Transvaal, and 1 out of 4 in the Orange Free State. The Conservative Party received 45% of the Afrikaner votes and 7.5% of the English-speaking votes. It won 50% of the Afrikaner vote in the Transvaal and Free State provinces in the 1989 general elections. It won 40% of the White popular vote in the Transvaal, and 45% in the Orange Free State provinces in the 1989 elections.

International links

In the late 1980s, the party established links with the conservative anti-communist pressure group in Britain, the Western Goals Institute, who hosted at least two visits to London by Treurnicht and other delegates. On 5 June 1989 Treurnicht was accompanied by Clive Derby-Lewis, Member of Parliament for Krugersdorp, and Carl Werth, the party's organizer in Natal, on a ten-day tour of European capitals. The Conservative Monday Club, a supporter of white rule in South Africa, hosted a black-tie banquet at the Charing Cross Hotel in London for Treurnicht and his entourage.

Opposition to negotiations to end apartheid

The Conservative Party led the "no" campaign during the 1992 referendum, when white South Africans where asked to determine whether or not they supported the negotiated reforms started by the government. Apart from Treurnicht, the official Leader of the Opposition and Clive Derby-Lewis, the Shadow Finance Minister, the no side was supported by former President P W Botha, who denounced de Klerk's reforms as irresponsible and perilous to the stability of the country. The result was a defeat for the "no" side, when 68% of white voters voted "yes".

About this time, as apartheid was being dismantled, the Conservative Party reached the peak of its influence, with 39 Members of Parliament, but its support rapidly declined after majority rule in 1994. The decision not to participate in the first multi-racial parliamentary elections in 1994 resulted in much of its support base defecting to the newly formed Freedom Front. In the 1995-1996 municipal elections, the CP won a total of 57 seats (out of 11 368) and a mere fraction of the votes compared to the FF and the NP.

Clive Derby-Lewis was found guilty in 1993 (under the emergency legislation enacted by the House of Assembly) of involvement in the assassination of South African Communist Party leader Chris Hani. In 1997, party leader Ferdi Hartzenberg testified before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that the assassination had been carried out on the party's behalf.[1]


In 2003, the Conservative Party joined forces with another party of similar views, the Freedom Front, to form the Freedom Front Plus. Three former Conservative Party MPs, Pieter Mulder, Corné Mulder and Pieter Groenewald, currently serve as Freedom Front Plus MPs.


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