South African republic referendum, 1960

South African Republic Referendum, 1960

Referendum
 
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South African republic referendum, 1960

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During 1960 South Africa's white minority government held a referendum on whether or not the then Union of South Africa should abandon its status as a Commonwealth realm and become a republic. The Afrikaner-dominated National Party, which came to power in 1948, was avowedly republican, and regarded South Africa's status as a Commonwealth realm as a relic of British imperialism.

Background

Prior to the referendum, Verwoerd had lowered the voting age for whites to 18, and had also included the white voters of South West Africa, now Namibia, on the electoral roll. Afrikaners, who were more likely to favour a republic than English-speaking white South Africans, were also on average younger than them, having a higher birth rate. Similarly in South West Africa, the Afrikaners and German-speaking whites outnumbered English-speaking ones.

Whites in the former Boer republics of the Transvaal and Orange Free State voted decisively in favour, as did ones in South West Africa. In the Cape Province there was a smaller majority, while Natal, which had more English-speaking whites than Afrikaans-speaking ones, voted against. Some whites in Natal even called for secession from the Union, but this was never seriously considered. The opposition United Party actively campaigned for a 'No' vote, while the smaller Progressive Party appealed to supporters of the proposed change to 'reject this republic', arguing that South Africa's membership of the Commonwealth, with which it had privileged...
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