DA leaders and insiders despair at election result

Staff Writer | May 10, 2019
Former and current DA leaders and insiders who spoke to TDF on condition of anonymity have expressed despair at the poor showing of the party in the 2019 elections.

With 97.28% of the national votes tallied, the DA was set to see its share of the vote decline relative to its 2014 performance. In 2014 the party received 22.23% of the national vote but as at 9.00pm on Friday evening the party was projected to win just 20.71% of the 2019 vote. 

There were also indications that the DA was set to lose support in former strongholds and in areas governed by the party. In the Western Cape, DA support at the same stage as national seemed set to fall to 55.45% from 59.38% in 2014. In Midvaal, long a DA stronghold in Gauteng, DA support was set to fall precipitously. In both Johannesburg and Pretoria, cities governed by the DA, the party seemed set to see its support decline. As late as the 8th of May the party told its supporters that “the DA can win in Gauteng”. But it now seems as if the party will struggle to beat the 30.78% of the vote it received in that province in 2014. 

A party insider and advisor told the TDF “that I just do not understand their campaign” and “I am afraid that the lesson they will learn from this is the wrong one”. 

A former senior DA leader told TDF that the result was “a disaster” and an example of “what happens when you attack your supporters”. 

A former staffer described the result as “a f&@#$&* debacle” and a “disaster”. 

All those spoken to by TDF identified infighting and the DA’s confused positions on race and policy as the reasons behind the decline in support for the party. Ahead of the election the DA had committed to make race the basis of policy but had back tracked and flip-flopped on this decision a number of times. Reports at the time suggested that when senior party members wanted to debate the policy they were told to “shut-up”. The DA had also appropriated ANC icons and policies such as state mandated racial quotas as part of its 2019 election campaign. 

The IRR has long put pressure on the DA to abandon its racial-nationalist flirtations, return to its liberal roots, and offer a true liberal political alternative to the ANC but this advice was rebuffed with party strategists confident that a downplaying of the party’s liberal heritage would see support surge. 

None of the DA leaders or insiders approached by the DA expressed confidence that the poor showing would lead to a change of strategy or to consequences for current party strategists and leaders. One source told TDF “that I’m afraid they’ll double down”. Another, when asked whether the party would engage in serious introspection, answered “no”.   


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