Albert Hertzog’s “Calvinist Speech” and the Verlig-Verkrampstryd: The origins of the right-wing movement in South Africa
Keywords:Albert Hertzog, John Vorster, Calvinism, Right-wing movement, Apartheid, Verkramptes, Verligtes
This article analyses the role Dr Albert Hertzog, an ultra-conservative Afrikaner Nationalist, played in the formation of South Africa’s right-wing movement. It focuses on his “Calvinist speech” of 1969 due to its historical significance for the unity of the National Party (NP) and as a broad summary of Hertzog’s personal opinion on the politics of South Africa. The speech contrasted liberal English with Calvinistic Afrikaners and concluded that only an Afrikaner true to Calvinistic principles could succeed in leading the nation through the perilous times they were facing. This opinion was considered offensive to the English population as well as to “enlightened” Nationalists like the Prime Minister, John Vorster. The article will examine how the controversy surrounding the speech precipitated a split in the NP; those expelled formed a right-wing party that failed to gain considerable support. When apartheid was being dismantled in the early 1990s, the movement did not pose a serious threat to the ruling party despite vows that Afrikaners would never surrender their power but rather fight to the bitter end. The failure of these ultra-conservatives originated in the verlig-verkrampstryd of the 1960s, in which Hertzog played a significant role.
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