1974 South African general election

General elections were held in South Africa on 24 April 1974. They were called one year earlier than scheduled by Prime Minister John Vorster on 4 February. The House of Assembly was increased from 166 to 171 members. The election was once again won by the National Party, with a slightly increased parliamentary majority.

1974 South African general election

← 1970 24 April 1974 (1974-04-24) 1977 →

169 of the 171 seats in the House of Assembly
86 seats needed for a majority
Turnout51.87% (Decrease 22.48pp)
  First party Second party Third party
  John Vorster.jpg Sir De Villiers Graaff 1960.jpg Colin Eglin (cropped).jpg
Leader B. J. Vorster De Villiers Graaff Colin Eglin
Party National United PFP
Last election 54.89%, 117 seats 37.50%, 47 seats 3.45%, 1 seat
Seats won 122 41 7
Seat change Increase 5 Decrease 6 Increase 6
Popular vote 638,424 363,478 72,479
Percentage 56.14% 31.96% 6.37%

Prime Minister before election

B. J. Vorster

Elected Prime Minister

B. J. Vorster

The Progressive Party made a major advance, however. In addition to Helen Suzman, re-elected for Houghton, five other members won seats including the party leader Colin Eglin. A seventh member of the caucus was elected at a by-election soon after. The United Party won 41 seats. The election also saw Harry Schwarz, leader of the United Party in the Transvaal, enter Parliament. Schwartz would soon lead a break away from the United Party and would become one of the Apartheid's more prominent opponents in Parliament, first forming the Reform Party and then joining with the Progressive Party to form the Progressive Reform Party in 1975, under the leadership of Colin Eglin.


Nominations closed on 18 March. A total of 334 candidates were nominated for 171 seats: National Party 137, United Party 110, Herstigte Nasionale Party 46, Progressive Party 23, Democratic Party 7 and others 11.[1] 46 seats were won unopposed, 32 for the National Party and 14 for the United Party.


House of AssemblyEdit

125 of the 171 seats were contested.[2] Voting did not take place in two constituencies, Pinelands and Wonderboom, where by-elections were later held; Pinelands was won by the Progressive Party and Wonderboom by the National Party.[3]

National Party638,42456.14122+5
United Party363,47831.9641–6
Progressive Party72,4796.376+5
Herstigte Nasionale Party44,7173.9300
Democratic Party10,0500.880New
Valid votes1,137,15198.19
Invalid/blank votes20,9231.81
Total votes1,158,074100.00
Registered voters/turnout2,232,62351.87
Source: Official Yearbook[4] New York Times

By provinceEdit

Province National United Progressive Total
Transvaal 62 11 4 76
Cape 37 15 3 56
Natal 5 15 0 20
Orange Free State 14 0 0 14
South-West Africa 5 0 0 5
Total 123 41 7 171
Source: Stadler[5]


The elections for the Senate were held on 30 May by an electoral college made up of members of the Assembly and various others. The National Party gained one seat at the expense of the United Party, winning 32 of the 44 seats (the United Party held 12 seats).

Party Seats +/–
National Party 32 +1
United Party 12 –1
Total 44 0


  1. ^ "General South African History Timeline: 1970s | South African History Online". Archived from the original on 14 January 2019. Retrieved 1 September 2012.
  2. ^ South Africa Inter-Parliamentary Union
  3. ^ Terry Eksteen (1982) The Decline of the United Party 1970–1977
  4. ^ South Africa: Official Yearbook of the Republic of South Africa, 1985, p180–182
  5. ^ Stadler, A. W. (1975), "The 1974 General Election in South Africa" (PDF), African Affairs, 74 (295): 209–218, doi:10.1093/oxfordjournals.afraf.a096587, JSTOR 721184