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Historia

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Abstract

WADDY, Nicholas L.. The fork in the road? British reactions to the election of an apartheid government in South Africa, May 1948. Historia [online]. 2010, vol.55, n.1, pp. 78-89. ISSN 0018-229X.

This article examines in depth the reaction of the British government and the British press to the election of a National Party, apartheid government in South Africa in May 1948. The conventional view -that the 1948 election represented a "turning point" in South African history and Anglo-South African relations -is repudiated. On the contrary, it appears that the British, although they almost uniformly admired Field Marshal Smuts and distrusted Afrikaner Nationalists, felt that the results of the 1948 election were not indicative of a fundamental shift. The view was widespread in Britain and South Africa that Smuts and the United Party would soon be returned to power, and apartheid would prove to be impractical and politically embarrassing to the Nationalists. Only after Smuts's death in 1950, and after the further consolidation of National Party political control in South Africa, did the British begin to accept that the re-establishment of a mildly progressive, anglophile regime in South Africa was unlikely to occur.

Keywords : National Party; United Party; Great Britain; South Africa; parliament; Jan Smuts; D.F. Malan; apartheid; segregation; international relations; 1948 general election; Sir Evelyn Baring; Patrick Gordon Walker; republicanism; Commonwealth; House of Assembly; AfTikaner Party; Jan Hofmeyr.

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