South Africa: Ever Right

Roadblocks to moderation

The routine by-election in Germiston, a working-class suburb of Johannesburg, should have been a shoo-in for Prime Minister Pieter W. Botha's National Party. Instead, Flip van der Walt, 63, barely won, carrying the district by a mere 308 of the 9,111 ballots cast. The vote reflects deep, corrosive divisions among South African whites over the country's future direction. The Rand Daily Mail judged the outcome the nation's "biggest electoral shock since 1948," when the National Party swept to power under the banner of white supremacy.

The contest centered on Botha's...

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