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The more the merrier, for Aunt Pat

Patricia De Lille.
Patricia De Lille.

Former Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille on Sunday announced her intentions to launch a new political party after being squeezed out of the DA.

The Pan Africanist Congress of Azania veteran and former leader of the Independent Democrats believes the country has ample space for yet another political party in the market.

This is a shift from the view she has held ever since she and then DA leader Helen Zille began talking about collapsing the ID into the DA.

Back then De Lille was of the view that there was a realignment of forces in SA politics and that the future lied in the formation of a single and mega opposition party to take on the ANC. She believed that voters were no longer interested in ineffective smaller parties, but wanted an opposition that can demonstrate the ability to unseat the ANC.

Her decision to form a new party as well as the DA's failure to convince other opposition parties to formally join forces with it means that the much spoken about "realignment" project has finally failed.

What now looks most likely to be the future of our politics is a possibility of coalition governments and tactical alliances at local; provincial and - possibly - national levels.

Political pundits, especially soon after the 2016 local government elections, assumed that coalition politics would result in the ANC losing its grip on power.

However, De Lille's decision to form a new party adds an entirely new dimension to the situation.

Assuming that she does manage to take a significant chunk of ex-ID and DA voters with her to a new party, the DA may very well next year find itself not securing enough seats to form a government in its Western Cape stronghold.

And given her current animosity towards the DA, it is conceivable that De Lille would then throw her lot with the ANC. All of this demonstrates just how fluid the SA political environment is, a party that looked to be in a strong position to make more gains just a year ago is suddenly on the ropes, not certain if it would still have control over the only province it runs.

That is the beauty of a properly functioning democracy, where no party is guaranteed victory. That way they can't take us for granted.

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