Can political coalitions build strong communities?

It’s no secret that the most anticipated South African municipal elections were recently held on the 3rd of August 2016 .

After both leading political parties failed to secure majority votes amongst respective municipalities, the search for coalition partners began.


Coalitions are crucial for South Africa’s key economic hubs, i.e Tshwane and Johannesburg.


Purpose of coalitions?


One of the main reasons political parties consider forming coalitions is to gain more influence or power than they would as an individual group.

For this to work, it’s important that ALL partners should feel like they are gaining something (and it’s a win-win situation).

By focusing on the common objectives and goals set by the parties, these coalitions should ultimately enable parties to achieve more, by working together and most importantly, serve communities better.


Benefits of coalitions


    • Heightened effectiveness and community voice – a coalition can increase the impact of each party’s efforts. Coalitions can increase resources through shared connections and access to contacts through other groups. This will enable improved service delivery and resource management.
    • Reduces duplication of efforts and resources.
    • Enhances the credibility and influence of an advocacy campaign.
    • Brings a diverse range of people and organisations together, which strengthens campaigns by broadening perspectives and enables parties to resolve issues better.
    • Coalitions can bring more expertise and resources to deal with complex issues.
    • Coalitions can develop new leaders:as the more experienced groups lead, they create roles for the new smaller groups.




    • Group members may become distracted from doing their work and this may lead to conflict which may weaken the overall party.
    • Individual organisations may not get credit for their contributions to a coalition.
    • By associating with some members of the coalition, the party will be associated with some negative aspects of  those members as well.
    • Coalition activities can be difficult to monitor and evaluate.
    • Shared decision-making can be slow and paralyse progress.


Coalitions may be dominated by one powerful organisation. By joining a coalition, a group often loses its messages and tactical decisions or “identity”. Each group should have a clear agreement with no hidden agendas for what they intend to achieve through a coalition. Read more here.


Do you think political coalitions take away a voter’s democratic right?

A strong coalition can benefit all partners and can be a powerful positive force in communities. When two people, groups or organisations come together to form a coalition with compatible goals, both parties benefit.

Decisions to form coalitions should only be considered after careful research and risk analysis. Also, consider whether a coalition will solve the problems your party is experiencing and whether your values and approach can be shared.

Ultimately, a coalition must advance the democracy and the interest of the majority, in the aim to improve the livelihood of the people.


What do you think a coalition government will do for you as a voter and for your community?


Leave a comment in the comment section below.


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