South Africa March 17, 1992

Theme/ Question

To endorse or reject President F. W. de Klerk's reform policies to negotiate an end to white minority rule through talks with the black majority.  The referendum asked, "Do you support continuation of the reform process which the State President began on February 2, 1990 and which is aimed at a new constitution through negotiation?"

Supporters vs. Opponents

De Klerk had promised to resign and hold elections if his reforms failed to win a significant majority. He warned that a "no" vote would return South Africa to international isolation, ruin the economy and bring uncontrollable black revolt.

Spearheading the campaign against the referendum was CP leader Treurnicht, nicknamed "Dr. No" for his unwavering opposition to political reform. The ANC appealed to its white members to vote "yes."

Outcome

Final results released March 18 showed that 1,924,186 million whites (68.6%) voted "yes" and 875,619 (31.2%) voted "no." Of South Africa's 3.28 million eligible white voters, 85% turned out for the ballot, one of the highest rates ever.

Other relevant information

The ANC issued a statement saying that the referendum benefited the negotiating process and emphasized that this should be the last occasion on which South Africa is subject to the indignity of a racial or ethnic referendum.

More than 220 blacks were slain in township violence during the weeks leading up to the referendum, according to a New York Times article datelined March 13.

Sources:
Facts on File World News Digest, <http://www.2facts.com>.
Economist Intelligence Unit, Country Reports
Lexis/Nexis & Factiva
Interviews with Policymakers

Suggested Citation: Neophytos G. Loizides, Referendums in Peace Processes Dataset, Queen's University Belfast (available online at http://www.qub.ac.uk/research-centres/CentrefortheStudyofEthnicConflict/TeachingResearch/Datasets/ReferendumsinPeaceProcesses/#d.en.173183)