What Is South Africa’s Democratic Alliance?

The Democratic Alliance (DA), previously known as the Democratic Party (DP), was formed on April 8, 1990 when the former Federal Progressive Party, the Self-Supporting Party and the Democratic National Movement merged. Under the joint leadership of Zac de Beer, Dennis Woral and Wanand Malan, the DP won 35 seats in parliament in the September general election.

However, the history of the top democratic alliance of DP goes back to 1960, when several liberal members of the United Party (UP) split to form the Progressive Party (PP). The reason for the split was the UP's inability to find a clear alternative to the National Party's apartheid policy.

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The PP took a position on constitutional reform and called for the creation of a constitution that included a Bill of Rights. The bill provides for an independent judiciary and a federal constitution that would constitutionally protect provincial powers. PP is also a free enterprise economy, but it will be 35 years before Progressive Party members see their ideals embodied in South Africa's interim constitution.

In the 1961 election only Helen Susman maintained her seat in the DPR for PP. It marked the start of one of the greatest parliamentary shows of all time as Susman sat alone for 13 years, the sole major opponent of racial differentiation in the entire South African Parliament. He fought trial and error incarceration, passing laws, controlling inflows, reserve work based on race, racially segregated facilities, the Group Zone Act and forced evictions.