Critics of the DA are drawing the wrong lesson

Some observers have interpreted the DA’s loss of voters to the Freedom Front Plus as a sign that its attempt to become more mainstream is a mistake. By moving to the centre of South African politics, the DA has lost its right-leaning voters to the likes of the FFP. The solution, critics say, is to reverse course.

But here’s the problem. Let’s imagine the DA hadn’t changed gears and had hung on to those defecting voters. In that scenario, the DA would still be stuck with around 20% of the vote. That’s basically the same percentage the National Party won in 1994, and the combined percentage the New NP and the DA achieved in 1999. It’s also pretty much what the DA achieved in the 2014 election.

In other words, the last 25 years of voting in SA suggests that there is a limit to the vote share that a conservative, anti-affirmative action, anti-redistribution party can achieve (hint: it’s 20%). Given SA’s demographics, if the DA keeps doing the same thing, it will probably see that 20% slowly decline as its voters age and young South Africans who bother to vote increasingly opt for the EFF.

Believers in a non-racial, market-friendly alternative to the ANC shouldn’t be worried about the DA’s losses to the FFP. They should be worried about the DA’s failure to gain vote share among middle-class black South Africans.

Comment from Biznews community member Robin Frew

I just want to comment on Magnus Heystek’s outstanding article on Sunshine Journalism. He hits the nail on the head when it comes to equity returns in SA. As an aside he has some eye-popping comments on the local media that make one sit up and think hard.

For anyone with a slightly lazy balance sheet why would you want to take the risk on a blend of Top 40 ZAR revenue stocks given the historic returns of the JSE and given the shocks of some of our recently top performers like Aspen, Steinhoff, etc ?

Makes absolutely no sense… Why wouldn’t you (assuming that you don’t wish to/not able to invest offshore) put your cash in a fixed deposit earning upwards of 8% and with inflation at around 5% that’s a 3% real return on a low risk? Sure, no ZAR hedge there but that’s for another discussion.