Can the ACDP stand on principle?

As the DA falls in the polls, the ACDP stands a chance of entering govt. But can they extract concessions on a referendum or LGBT education policy?

Robert Duigan


Robert Duigan


May 21, 2024

Can the ACDP stand on principle?

As the DA flirts with dipping below the 51% waterline, the ACDP could well become the chosen tie-breaking partner for the DA to preserve their lead in the 42-seat provincial legislature.

The DA slipping even to 21 seats will not allow them to govern effectively, and they require one more seat to form a government. They will have to reach out to someone, and the ACDP, with their agnostic position on Cape independence, seems the safest option.

However, it seems a foregone conclusion that the ACDP’s voter base will get essentially nothing out of this deal.

For nearly a decade, the DA has been working with several other smaller parties to attempt to consolidate control over various metropolitan municipalities. While some have come and gone, two parties have remained constant features wherever the DA have lacked the seats to secure a majority - the VF+ and the ACDP.

On paper, one would hardly expect the hyper-liberal rainbow-globalist DA and the Christian-conservative ACDP to have anything in common (aside from pro-Israeli foreign policy). And yet they manage to work together without the ACDP getting much out of it besides a few seats.

While the ACDP has failed to clear 4% in any province so far, a big constituency which has opened up for the ACDP in the past few years has been coming from the anti-globalist backlash against COVID lockdown policies and the international institutions which enforced them.

The ACDP stood up against lockdowns and mandatory vaccinations, remaining the only party to formally reject these policies, and gained a great deal of respect from various forms of conservatives and libertarians. They also gained a great deal of respect from secessionists, because while they do not support secession per se, they stood up for the right of the public to be heard in a referendum, and participated in the Western Cape Devolution Working Group, which tried to get the DA to make some marginal effort in realising their manifesto pledge on federalism (15 years of zero action).

But they have had no real impact on any of these policies, and remained in coalition with the lockdown- and vaccine-maximalist DA during this whole period.

To some degree this is understandable - after all, the Africanist faction in South African politics is just as anti-Christian as the DA liberals are, but the remainder of their policies and activities make enough of a difference that backing the ANC is pretty much off the table. So while they may absorb a few firm conservatives, they are unlikely to see gains in influence, and their lack of leverage will ultimately mean they change nothing about the DA's governance policy while acting as a failsafe for disgruntled DA voters.

In this respect, they make the ideal DA partner coalition partner - a loyal but weak human shield from criticism coming from the right. This is particularly visible in the year-by-year trends in party support, most of which is in the Western Cape, and which saw a bump in support during the shakeup created by Mmusi Maimane.

Whether the ACDP are truly comfortable being used this way by a party which supports none of their values is hard to tell. Representatives could not be reached for comment.

They may now have an opportunity to push several of their previous public policies - from scrapping queer sex education in schools to holding a referendum on Cape independence.

But they have turned down several opportunities, not only in the past, but more recently, when they rejected the Western Cape People's Bill, which would have granted meaningful autonomy in the Western Cape and removed the DA's ability to excuse problems here by blaming the national government.

It raises the question whether they will stick by their promise in the lead-up to the 2021 election to support a referendum on Cape independence. Western Cape leader Ferlon Christians confirms the party is sticking by its support for the referendum adopted in 2021, and the new electoral reforms in the National Assembly include provisions to align referendum legislation with the Constitution, which grants Premiers the right to hold provincial referenda, so it isn't as if there are legal obstacles.

But the question which is difficult to get firm answers on, is how firm do they stand? While we at the Cape Independent are naturally focused on secession as our foremost concern, the Western Cape Education Department's repeated left-wing ideological swings are also a matter of concern - what would the ACDP be willing to do to force a change?

With the VF and RP hanging in the wings, the DA's safe options are limited to these three parties, with the alternatives being their radical enemies in the ANC, EFF, PA and Al-Jamaa.

A powerful move for the ACDP would be to form a coalition pact with the secessionist parties, one of which is also constitutionally Christian, to ensure a strong government and place an ultimatum on the DA - achieving both a referendum and re-establishing sensible Christian values to keep the ANC and their cronies out.

This election, just like it is for the secessionists and Afrikaners, is the first opportunity for Christians to actually have an influence on policy. Will they take it, or will they swallow their values for a seat at the table?

Update 21 May: Party representative Ferlon Christians responded saying the ACDP will be keeping to their 2021 policy of being in support of a referendum.

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