Floor crossing in South Africa – dodgy

Churchill once said:

It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried.

I agree, which is why I get a little upset at the erosion of South Africa’s democracy which is allowed by our floor crossing law. In South Africa we vote for parties rather than people. The ANC has enacted a law which allows politicians to ‘reallocate’ votes cast for a particular party by changing parties and keeping their seats.

We vote for a particular party, but a politician may take our vote to another party by crossing the floor. Absolute rubbish – and here are some of the reasons I think this law sucks:

  • It distorts the democracy by allowing politicians to steal people’s votes.
  • When the law was initially requested by another party it was rejected by the ANC. However, when the NNP wanted to join the ANC there was a sudden change of heart and the crossing was allowed.
  • There is a clause saying that a person can only cross if 10% of his/her party also crosses. That effectively means that no ANC member can ever cross (because 29 other members would also have to cross) while smaller parties can easily lose members. I can’t think of a single reason for this clause other than to protect the ANC.
  • The whole thing can easily lead to bribery and corruption as money is used to induce crossings.

I can’t think of any reasons why floor crossing should be allowed? It feels a lot like cheating to me.

Here is the Wikipedia article on the subject.