1920 South African general election

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1920 South African general election

← 1915 10 March 1920 (1920-03-10) 1921 →

All 134 seats in the House of Assembly
Turnout66.94% Decrease
  First party Second party
  Hertzog JBM.jpg Genl JC Smuts.jpg
Leader J. B. M. Hertzog Jan Smuts
Party National Party South African
Last election 27 seats 54 seats
Seats won 44 41
Seat change Increase14 Decrease13
Popular vote 90,512 101,227
Percentage 32.62% 36.48%
Swing +3.21% -0.19%

  Third party Fourth party
  SirThomasSmartt.jpg Kolonel Cresswell.jpg
Leader Thomas Smartt F. H. P. Creswell
Party Unionist Labour
Last election 39 seats 4 seats
Seats won 25 21
Seat change Decrease14 Increase17
Popular vote 38,946 40,639
Percentage 14.03% 14.64%
Swing -5.39% +5.01%

South African House of Assembly 1920.svg
House of Assembly after the election

Prime Minister before election

Jan Smuts
South African

Elected Prime Minister

Jan Smuts
South African

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The 1920 South African general election was held for the 134 seats in the House of Assembly of the Union of South Africa, on 10 March 1920.[1] This was for the third Union Parliament.

The National Party (NP) won the largest number of seats, but not a majority. The South African Party (SAP) minority government continued in office, with Unionist Party support in Parliament. This was the third successive term of SAP government, but only the second period with General Jan Smuts as Prime Minister. The first SAP premier (General Louis Botha) had died in office in 1919, during the previous Parliament.

The National Party became the official opposition, for the first time.

Delimitation of electoral divisions[edit]

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 third delimitation report of 1919, is set out in the table below. The figures in brackets are the number of electoral divisions in the previous (1913) delimitation. If there is no figure in brackets then the number was unchanged.[2]

Provinces Cape Natal Orange Free State Transvaal Total
Divisions 51 17 17 49 (45) 134 (130)


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.

The total registered electorate was 421,790. The votes cast were 282,361 (including 4,876 spoilt ballots).[3]

Party Seats[4] Seats % Votes[5] Votes % Leader
National Party 44 32.84 101,227 36.48 General J. B. M. Hertzog
South African 41 30.60 90,512 32.62 General Jan Smuts
Unionist 25 18.66 38,946 14.03 Sir Thomas Smartt
Labour 21 15.67 40,639 14.64 Colonel F. H. P. Creswell
Independent 3 2.24 5,986 2.16 -
Socialist League - - 202 0.07 Bill Andrews
Total 134


  • South Africa 1982: Official Yearbook of the Republic of South Africa, published by Chris van Rensburg Publications
  1. ^ "The South African General Election was held on March 10th". The Spectator. London. 20 March 1920. Retrieved 21 February 2016.
  2. ^ South Africa 1982, page 129
  3. ^ South Africa 1982, page 176
  4. ^ South Africa 1982, page 174 (seats by party)
  5. ^ South Africa 1982, page 176 (votes by party)