My vote, my party, my reason: Katzenellenbogen - Biznews

When you stand in the voting queue today, think hard about which party most deserves your trust to grow and govern the country or be part of a ruling coalition.

In today’s election, consider which party deserves your trust to govern effectively. Endorsing the Democratic Alliance (DA) on all ballots is advisable due to their commitment to liberal values, better governance, and economic growth. They oppose harmful policies and manage coalitions well. Though a coalition with the ANC is possible to prevent an unfavourable alliance with the EFF, the DA’s track record suggests it would prioritize national interests. Vote DA for a chance at improved accountability and growth.

Jonathan Katzenellenbogen

When you stand in the voting queue today, think hard about which party most deserves your trust to grow and govern the country or be part of a ruling coalition.

Nowadays, few of our news websites, newspapers or columnists endorse a party. Business Day had a bit of a lame excuse for not endorsing a party – the paper said it thinks its readers and South Africans, “are discerning enough to make up their minds without our guidance.”

That is true, but it does not stand as a reason for not declaring where you stand. If you have been forthcoming with your opinion on the big political issues faced by your country, you cannot then say you will be quiet when it comes to the choice of a party. It is like saying you do not want to do your job.

Some in the commentariat have backed one of the micro start-up parties, which is pretty much like copping out of a real decision. These are the parties that are unlikely to get even one or two percent of the vote. They often disappear after elections, sometimes just survive with one or two MPs, and are mostly a waste of a vote.

A quarter of a percent is the share of the vote needed for the election of one of the 400 MPs. If a party receives below this threshold its votes are then distributed among other parties in proportion to their share of the vote.

As we increasingly enter a new era of coalition politics, some small parties could emerge with the power to make or break a government. In Israel, small religious policies have determined the country’s policy toward settlements on the West Bank because of the majority they give Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Micro parties may have this sort of power at some stage in South Africa. That means before voting for such parties, supporters should think long and hard about who are the party’s likely friends.

Perfect fit
The excuse for not backing any party can always be made on the basis that none is a perfect fit with one’s views. That is pretty much a given, and the choice of a party to support comes out of asking, who is best of the bunch on the ballot paper?

Today you will be given three ballot papers on which to place crosses. The first is the National Ballot, which is used to elect candidates on party lists to fill 200 seats in the 400-seat National Assembly. You are asked to put a cross next to one of the 52 parties listed on this ballot paper.

You will also be given a Regional National Assembly ballot paper with the names of the parties and independent candidates up for election in your province. This is to fill the seats in the National Assembly reserved for your province.

And then you will be given a ballot paper which will have a list of the parties and independent candidates competing for seats in your Provincial Legislature.

I suggest you vote for the Democratic Alliance (DA) on all three ballot papers.

The larger the DA team in the National Assembly and Provincial Legislatures, the better. The DA have performed well as an opposition in holding the ANC to account and opposing legislation like that on National Health Insurance and Expropriation without Compensation, which would have dire consequences.

I will vote for the DA because it upholds important liberal values like an open society, non-racialism, individual rights, the free market, and the need for transparency and accountability. One reason is very often good enough to support a cause, but I have a number of reasons.

We would have a far better chance of faster growth, lowering unemployment, ensuring a reliable energy supply, a turnaround of state enterprises, and an improvement in public healthcare and education if the DA were in power. They want to do what works in much of the rest of the world.

The party is against empowerment policies, because they tend to benefit a narrow and connected elite. And I agree with the party’s support for the continued payment of grants as a social safety net for the poorest.

There is little doubt that the DA governs far better than the ANC. With its experience in government the DA would be well placed to fight corruption and ensure the improved management of the public sector.

Many of our pontificators moan about how the DA is a white party. It happens to be the most racially diverse party in terms of its leadership and support. What is accurate is that the DA is an urban party, and as people increasingly move to cities its support could grow.

The DA is also a good choice for the era of coalitions. It now has vast experience in drawing up coalition agreements and managing the politics of such arrangements. As we might see coalitions at national and provincial level, there is the question of whether I would support the DA coalition choices.

It all depends on the coalition agreement, what policies are at stake and the nature of the arrangement.

The three coalition possibilities are an ANC/small party coalition if the ANC falls short of a majority by a few percentage points. Then there is what the DA calls the “doomsday coalition” – an ANC coalition with the Comrade parties, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and the MK Party. The third is an ANC coalition with the DA. There is also the possibility of a Government of National Unity (GNU) in which all parties that are elected would be invited into government.

If the ANC falls a few percentage points short of a majority, it will try to get smaller parties on side, and could possibly try to woo Inkatha and others. The ANC is unlikely to require more than ten percent of the vote, but if it does, it could talk to the fellow Comrade parties.

The DA has said that to prevent the doomsday coalition it would be prepared to join a coalition with the ANC after speaking to its Multi-party Charter (MPC) friends. This could be on the basis of a “confidence and supply” arrangement. Under this the DA and probably at least some of its MPC partners would only offer support to the ANC on votes of confidence and the budget. An alternative arrangement would be taking up ministerial posts in government.

The argument for the DA doing this is that it would have to be convinced that such a coalition would be best for the country. A doomsday coalition would have been avoided and the DA would possibly help the ANC turn around the economy.  But it could also go terribly wrong for the country and the DA if it is thwarted by cadres in government.

If a convincing case is made for what is best for the country, I think it would have my support on at least a trial basis.

Jonathan Katzenellenbogen is a Johannesburg-based freelance financial journalist

This article was first published on the Daily Friend.