South African general election, 1933

South African general election, 1933

17 May 1933 (1933-05-17)

All 150 seats in the House of Assembly
  First party Second party
Leader J. B. M. Hertzog Jan Smuts
Party National South African
Last election 78 seats 61 seats
Seats won 75 61
Seat change Decrease3 Steady0
Popular vote 101,159 71,486
Percentage 31.61% 22.34%
Swing Decrease9.55% Decrease24.17%

Prime Minister before election

J. B. M. Hertzog

Elected Prime Minister

J. B. M. Hertzog

This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
South Africa
Foreign relations

The 1933 South African general election was held for the 150 seats in the House of Assembly of the Union of South Africa, on 17 May 1933.[1] The National Party won half the seats in the House, but the coalition with the South African Party continued.

Changes to the franchise

Since the 1929 election several changes had been made to the franchise laws. Adult white women were enfranchised in 1930. In 1931 all European males over the age of 21 were enfranchised (eliminating property and wage qualifications for that section of the population).[2]

One effect of these changes, which were not extended to the non-white population of the Union, was to dilute the influence of the non-white electors in Cape Province and Natal.

Delimitation of electoral divisions

The South Africa Act 1909 had provided for a delimitation commission to define the boundaries for each electoral division. The representation by province, under the sixth delimitation report of 1932, is set out in the table below. The figures in brackets are the number of electoral divisions in the previous (1928) delimitation. If there is no figure in brackets then the number was unchanged.[3]

Provinces Cape Natal Orange Free State Transvaal Total
Divisions 61 (58) 16 (17) 16 (18) 57 (55) 150 (148)


The vote totals in the table below may not give a complete picture of the balance of political opinion, because of unopposed elections (where no votes were cast) and because contested seats may not have been fought by a candidate from all major parties.

As the two largest parties were in coalition together, the opposition to the government was weaker and more fragmented than in any other election in South African history.

The total registered electorate was 957,636. It had more than doubled, since the last election, due to the franchise reforms (see above section). The votes cast were 323,417 (including 3,406 spoilt votes).[4]

Party Seats[5] Seats % Votes[6] Votes % Leader
National 75 50.00 101,159 31.61 General J. B. M. Hertzog
South African 61 40.67 71,486 22.34 General Jan Smuts
Independent 10 6.67 87,321 27.29 -
Roos Party 2 1.33 27,441 8.58 Tielman Roos
Labour 2 1.33 20,276 6.34 Walter Madeley
Home Rule Party - - 12,328 3.85 -
Total 150

An alternative breakdown of members, distinguishing between supporters and opponents of the coalition, was (pro Coalition) NP 75, SAP 61, Labour 2, Roos 2; (opposition) Independent Labour 2, Natal Home Ruler 2, Independents 6.[7] Another interpretation, is NP 75, SAP 61, Labour 4, Roos Party 2, Home Rule group 2 and Independents 6.[8]


  • Keesing's Contemporary Archives
  • The Rise of the South African Reich, by Brian Bunting, (first published by Penguin Africa Library in 1964 and revised in 1969) accessed on an ANC website 3 August 2010
  • Smuts: A Reappraisal, by Bernard Friedman (George, Allen & Unwin 1975) ISBN 0-04-920045-3
  • South Africa 1982 Official Yearbook of the Republic of South Africa, published by Chris van Rensburg Publications
  • The South African Constitution, by H.J. May (3rd edition 1955, Juta & Co)
  1. ^ Keesing's Contemporary Archives, 1931-1934, page 747
  2. ^ ‘’The South African Constitution’’, by H.J. May (3rd edition 1955, Juta & Co) pp 92-93
  3. ^ South Africa 1982, page 129
  4. ^ South Africa 1982, page 176
  5. ^ South Africa 1982, page 174 (seats by party)
  6. ^ South Africa 1982, page 176 (votes by party)
  7. ^ The South African Constitution, page 135
  8. ^ The Rise of the South African Reich, chapter 2: The First Nationalist Government
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