Friday, April 25, 2008

Pros & Cons of Floor Crossing

Believe it or not, the ACDP did benefit a little from floor crossing. We were of course very outspoken against floor crossing, both because we were substantially affected by it and because we believed it was intrinsically harmful to the process of democracy.

I won't dwell on why floor crossing is wrong, suffice to say that candidates should generally be true to the party and stance they conveyed to their voters who put them in their position at the time of election. Floor crossing in South Africa was driven into overdrive in South Africa by the prospect of better salaries, offerings of senior positions in rival parties, and undoubtedly by a prevailing drought of morality.

The ACDP lost several councillors and MP's to rival parties. A brief Google search will haul up the names and I have no intention of disparaging them here. I will say what needs to be said: the kind of people who stayed with the party were the servants, the stalwarts, the ones in for the long haul. There was a very simple reason why the good candidates could not cross floors: they couldn't preach ACDP values one moment and then in the next moment switch allegiance to a party that betrayed those values. It would have been sacrilege.

In effect, floor crossing was a process of pruning for the party, and what we were left with were a set of branches and buds that could be relied upon to bear good fruit.

Needless to say, we were amply pleased with the end of floor crossing. For two reasons. Firstly, we won't be losing seats (and their attached funding) that we worked so hard for. Secondly, we are in a better position to discipline candidates who have drifted out of line, where before we had to treat them with kid gloves in case they packed up and left.

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