With the emergence of the EFF and Agang, very little attention has been given to some of the smaller parties which will emerge and have emerged to contest next year’s election. One of these is a party which I am both worried and excited for – the new Libertarian Party of South Africa.
Never has SA truly had a proper libertarian platform. Sure, some of our parties preach civil liberties and free market principles – but they all tend to believe that the state is a necessary function, even in cases when it is not.
LiPSA does not believe this. In fact, as their manifesto states, they reject the right of the government dictating to us in anyway. This is a principle, even considering my ideological misgivings, I still strongly agree with.
The party does have some future problems, however. Both internal and external issues may threaten the party, but these problems do have solutions.
The internal problems are easily fixable. These problems include a potential lack of organization, strategy and members (which also happens to connect to the external issues). Any organization which wishes to contest something as large as an election will require these assets.
There is still time to strategize and organize, but members are a problem. Libertarianism, for the most part, is an intellectual movement in SA – and as a result, it seldom appeals to the so-called ‘man on the street’. This outlook will have to change in order to attract enough support to make even the slightest impression in the elections.
The party will need to create an image which appeals to the majority of the voting public. The general person does not want long treatises
Externally, the most major factor threatening the party is also the same issue affecting most parties in South Africa – image. In politics, image is everything. It does not matter if you are right, only that people think you are.
LiPSA is already at a disadvantage due to their manifesto not appealing to the general populist stance that the majority of the electorate take. They can either respond to this problem by betraying their principles and becoming populist, or by strategizing in such a way that they maximize the number of votes they receive from the non-populist electorate.
The party has received some bad press already due to some questionable actions in their founding, but I believe that all parties in SA have a right to representation (except for Nazis that is – those guys just aren’t that nice) and I will definitely be putting my name on their IEC registration form. If they prove to be good, I may even vote for them.
Regardless, I wish them luck with their formation and the election, and will be aiding them when and where I can.