Established in April 1989 as the Democratic Party, it sought to unite White liberal opposition to the National Party (NP) through a merger of the Progressive Federal Party, the National Democratic Movement, and the Independent Party. After the end of apartheid, it played an important mediating role in the negotiations between the National Party and the ANC for a transition to a multiracial democracy. As the NP became more attractive to liberal voters and the major party representing the interests of Whites, the DP lost some of its identity as the major party of liberal opposition, gaining seven seats with 1.7 per cent of the popular vote in 1994. Nevertheless, it played a disproportionate role in the subsequent constitutional debates, campaigning for a liberal, non‐interventionist state. This paid off in 1998, when it benefited from internal squabbles in the National Party to become the country's largest opposition party, with 9.6 per cent of the vote and 36 seats. In 2000, it formed effectively the senior partner to the demoralized NP as the two parties merged to become the Democratic Alliance (DA). A number of members broke away in 2001 to re‐form the NP, but in the 2004 elections, the DA remained the principal opposition party, with 50 parliamentary seats. From 2007 the party was led by the energetic Mayor of Cape Town, Helen Zille.http://www.da.org.zaThe home page of the Democratic Alliance.
Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945).