By mid-May 1992 the negotiations stalled over what appeared to be fundamental differences. The NP’s constitutional proposals included enforced coalitions, a collegiate presid ency composed of the leaders of the major parties, serving as president on a rotational basis, and a senate that gave generously weighted representation to minority parties. It advocated a federal system with strong regional and local governments. The Democratic Party, the Inkatha Freedom Party and some of the homeland administrations also advocated federalism.
The ANC strongly opposed the NP’s proposals, rejecting enforced coalitions and minority vetoes, and insisting that minority parties would be adequately protected under majority rule by their assured representation under proportional representation, their ability as opposition to keep the government on its toes, and the development of a vigorous civil society. It was also suspicious of federalism, regarding it as a means whereby wealthier regions could protect their advantages.
De Klerk had previously conceded the principle of an elected constitution-making body, but with the proviso that there should be a two-phase process in which an interim constitution would be drafted by a multiparty conference and enacted into law by the existing Tricameral Parliament. A fully inclusive Parliament, elected by universal franchise under the interim constitution, would act as a constitution-making body and draft and adopt a final constitution. A new body, the Constitutional Court, would have to certify that the constitution incorporated pre-agreed principles laid down by the original multiparty conference. De Klerk’s proposal, it transpired, became the template for the future trajectory of the constitutional negotiations.