It was decided that Herbert Gladstone, son of a prime minister of Britain and now the South African governor-general, would ask the politician who in his view had most support to form a cabinet. With ex-president Steyn not available due to ill health, the choice lay between Louis Botha and John X. Merriman. Neither was prepared to serve under the other. Gladstone decided on Botha, who formed a cabinet consisting of members of the ruling party in the four colonies. The Union of South Africa was inaugurated on 31 May 1910. In September 1910 the first election was held. The governing or ruling parties won 67 seats, the Unionist
Party 39, the Labour Party four and independents eleven. In 1911 the South African Party (SAP) was formed to replace the coalition of ex-ruling parties.
Consolidation and centralisation were the most urgent priorities of the SAP government. It introduced a consolidated civil service to administer the various departments of state. Botha and Smuts commissioned the architect Herbert Baker to design new government buildings. These imposing Union Buildings, as they came to be known, were completed in 1913 on Meintjeskop less than two kilometres from the centre of Pretoria at a cost of £1 180 000. The result had a ‘nobility of site and style’, with two identical blocks and twin towers to symbolise the ‘two races of South Africa’ (that is, English- and Dutchspeaking whites). They were brought together in harmony in the central amphitheatre.