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versão On-line ISSN 2309-8392
versão impressa ISSN 0018-229X


VAN WYK, Annie. The role of the Verligtes in the constitutional negotiations, 1990-1994. Historia [online]. 2008, vol.53, n.1, pp.197-225. ISSN 2309-8392.

The establishment of a democratic South Africa in 1994 was the result of the dismantling of apartheid, in which the verligtes (since their origin in 1966) in the National Party (NP) had a significant role to play. The verligte influence in the NP caused many reforms of apartheid policy to be implemented during the Vorster and P.W. Botha eras. Growing tensions in the country during the 1980s led to increasing dissatisfactions in the NP and resulted in the rise of a left wing, known as the "new Nats". As pragmatist, F.W. de Klerk could not ignore the increasing demands for comprehensive reforms by the verligtes and the "new Nats". He succeeded in unifying these two factions within the National Party, and they became known as the verligtes. In the earlier stage of negotiations, this group did not support majority rule, but rather power-sharing. The 1990s heralded the era of negotiations for a new democratic political dispensation in South Africa. During the course of the negotiations, De Klerk and the verligtes began to differ in their objectives in terms of the intended outcome of the negotiations. De Klerk wanted to ensure a power-sharing agreement, which made provision for the protection of minority rights, while the verligtes started to believed that the ANC's numerical superiority would necessarily lead to a government dominated by the majority and that individual rights, rather than group rights, should be emphasised. They were, however, forced to this paradigm shift due to pressure resulting from political, economic and demographic realities. De Klerk was pressured to accept this political viewpoint at last. However, while these divergent goals resulted in a transitional democratic constitution, characterised by many shortcomings, it also piloted a peaceful election.

Palavras-chave : Afrikaners; apartheid; democratic political dispensation; majority rule; negotiations; "new Nats"; political reforms; power-sharing; transitional constitution; verligte-verkrampstry.

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