PRETORIA, May 10 – The strong growth of the Freedom Front Plus (FF+), which more than doubled its votes compared to the 2014 national election,surprised many but the party said it was not shocked and had expected a steep climb in the polls.
By 11am, the FF+ was hovering around 2.48 percent of the vote, and while this will not see it even come close to official opposition status anywhere in the country, it is a dramatic improvement compared to previous polls.
At 323,497 votes, and counting, the party had already doubled its support base in just five years.
FF+ election campaign manager Wouter Wessels said the secret to the party’s success was getting voters to the polling booths amid increasing voter apathy, and its rebranding in 2013 which has seen the party’s representation in Parliament, provincial legislatures and municipalities steadily growing.
“We started a process in 2013 where we repositioned the party and since then we’ve seen growth in 2014, not as significant as this, and then we also grew significantly in terms of councillors we obtained in 2016 and that was a good foundation for this,” said Wessels.
“I think our campaign and our strategy overall worked. We proviced an alternative to say there is hope, to say we are a growing alternative. Our message was an equal opportunity society to create more opportunities to grow the economy and people found that attractive.”
The FF+ had been one of the fiercest critics of plans to expropriate land without compensation in the public interest. It favours the willing buyer, willing seller principle. Asked whether the fact that its been vociferously fighting a resolution adopted by Parliament which will see the Constitution amended to explicitly allow for expropriation, had swayed more voters in its favour, Wessels said it was a major factor but that its economic policy sealed the deal.
“Mostly we we picked up from campaigning that people chose us because of our economic policies, which do include private property rights as a principle of a free market system, but people associated our manifesto with a new type of dispensation which was about economic opportunities and did not include unrealistic promises.” (ANA)