Frederik Willem de Klerk DMS (Afrikaans pronunciation:
[ˈfrɪədərək ˈvələm də ˈklɛrk]; born 18 March 1936) is a
South African politician who served as State President of South Africa
from 1989 to 1994 and as Deputy President from 1994 to 1996. South
Africa's last head of state from the era of white-minority rule, his
government focused on dismantling the apartheid system and introducing
universal suffrage. Ideologically a conservative and an economic
liberal, he led the National Party from 1989 to 1997.
Born in Johannesburg, British South Africa, to an influential
Afrikaner family, de Klerk joined the
Broederbond while at university.
Joining the National Party, to which he had family ties, he became a
politician and sat in the white-only government of P. W. Botha,
holding a succession of ministerial posts. As a minister, he supported
and enforced apartheid, a system of racial segregation that privileged
whites. After Botha succumbed to ill health, in 1989 de Klerk replaced
him, first as leader of the National Party and then as State
President. Although observers expected him to continue Botha's defence
of apartheid, de Klerk decided to end the policy. He was aware that
growing ethnic animosity and violence was leading
South Africa into a
racial civil war. Amid this violence, the state security forces
committed widespread human rights abuses and encouraged violence
between Xhosa and Zulu, although de Klerk later denied sanctioning
such actions. He permitted anti-apartheid marches to take place,
legalised a range of previously banned anti-apartheid political
parties, and freed imprisoned anti-apartheid activists, including
Nelson Mandela. He also dismantled South Africa's nuclear weapons
De Klerk negotiated with
Mandela to fully dismantle apartheid and
establish a transition to universal suffrage. In 1993, he publicly
apologised for apartheid's harmful effects, although not for apartheid
itself. He oversaw the 1994 multi-racial election in which
African National Congress
African National Congress (ANC) to victory; the National Party
took second place with 20% of the total vote. After the election, de
Klerk became a Deputy President in Mandela's ANC-led coalition
government. In this position, he supported the government's liberal
economic policies. De Klerk had desired a total amnesty for political
crimes committed under apartheid and opposed the Truth and
Reconciliation Commission set up to investigate past human rights
abuses by both pro and anti-apartheid groups. His working relationship
Mandela was strained, although he later spoke fondly of him. In
May 1996, after the National Party objected to the new constitution,
de Klerk withdrew it from the coalition government; the party
disbanded the following year and reformed as the New National Party.
In 1997, he retired from active politics and since has lectured
De Klerk is a controversial figure. His role in dismantling apartheid
and introducing universal suffrage to
South Africa brought him
international recognition and praise, including the Félix
Houphouët-Boigny Peace Prize in 1991, the
Prince of Asturias Award
Prince of Asturias Award in
1992 and the
Nobel Peace Prize
Nobel Peace Prize in 1993. Anti-apartheid figures
criticised him for offering only a qualified apology for apartheid and
for ignoring the human rights abuses carried out by his state security
forces, while the white right-wing accused him of betraying South
Africa's white minority by abandoning apartheid.
1 Early life and education
2 State President
2.1 Becoming State President
2.2 Negotiations toward universal suffrage
3 Vice Presidency
3.1 Truth and Reconciliation Commission
4 Later life
6 Personality and personal life
7 Reception and legacy
9 Further reading
10 External links
Early life and education
The name "De Klerk" is derived from Le Clerc, Le Clercq and De Clercq,
and is of French Huguenot origin (meaning "clergyman" or "literate"
in old French). De Klerk noted that he is also of Dutch descent,
with an Indian ancestor from the late 1600s or early 1700s. He is
also said to be descended from the Khoi interpreter known as
De Klerk was born in Johannesburg, in the then
Transvaal Province of
South Africa, to Johannes "Jan" de Klerk and Hendrina Cornelia Coetzer
– "her forefather was a Kutzer who stems from Austria". When
de Klerk was twelve years old, the apartheid system was officially
institutionalised by the South African government. He therefore
was, according to his brother, "one of a generation that grew up with
the concept of apartheid".
De Klerk graduated from Monument High School in Krugersdorp. De Klerk
graduated in 1958 from the
Potchefstroom University with BA and LL.B
degrees (the latter cum laude). Following graduation, de Klerk
practised law in
Vereeniging in the Transvaal. In 1959 he married
Marike Willemse, with whom he had two sons and a daughter.
He was brought up in the Gereformeerde Kerk, the smallest and most
socially conservative of South Africa's three Dutch Reformed
Churches. De Klerk's family had longstanding affiliations with
South Africa's National Party. His uncle, J. G. Strijdom, was a
former Prime Minister. He came from a family environment in which
the conservatism of traditional white South African politics was
deeply ingrained. His paternal great-grandfather was Senator Johannes
Cornelis "Jan" van Rooy. In 1948, the year when the NP swept
to power in whites-only elections on an apartheid platform, F. W. de
Klerk's father, Johannes "Jan" de Klerk, became secretary of the NP in
the Transvaal province and later rose to the positions of cabinet
minister and President of the Senate, becoming interim State President
in 1975. His brother, Willem, was a political analyst who later
was a founder of the Democratic Party.
De Klerk went to study law at Potchefstroom University, graduating
with honors. He later noted that during this legal training, he
"became accustomed to thinking in terms of legal principles". At
university, he was initiated into the Broederbond, a secret society
for the Afrikaner social elite.
"F. W.", pronounced "eff-veer", as he became popularly known, was
first elected to the House of Assembly in 1969 as the member for
Vereeniging, and entered the cabinet in 1978. De Klerk had been
offered a professorship of administrative law at Potchefstroom in 1972
but he declined the post because he was serving in Parliament. In
1978, he was appointed Minister of Posts and Telecommunications and
Social Welfare and Pensions by Prime Minister Vorster.
Under Prime Minister and later State President P. W. Botha, he held a
succession of ministerial posts, including:
Posts and Telecommunications and Sports and Recreation (1978–1979)
Mines, Energy and Environmental Planning (1979–1980)
Mineral and Energy Affairs (1980–1982)
Internal Affairs (1982–1985)
National Education and Planning (1984–1989)
In 1972, his alma mater offered him a chair in its law faculty. In
1976, he was in the United States where he observed what he saw as the
pervasive racism of U.S. society, later noting that he "saw more
racial incidents in one month there than in
South Africa in a
He became Transvaal provincial National Party leader in 1982 and
chairman of the Minister's Council in the House of Assembly in
1985. As education minister between 1984 and 1989 he
upheld the apartheid system in South Africa's schools.
For most of his career, de Klerk had a very conservative
reputation, and was seen as someone who would obstruct change in
South Africa. He had been a forceful proponent of apartheid's
system of racial segregation and was perceived as an advocate of the
white minority's interests.
P. W. Botha
P. W. Botha resigned as leader of the National Party after an apparent
stroke, and de Klerk defeated Botha's preferred successor, finance
minister Barend du Plessis, in the race to succeed him. On 2 February
1989, he was elected leader of the National Party. He defeated
Barend du Plessis to the position by a slim majority of
eight votes, 69-61. Soon after, he called for the introduction of
a new South African constitution, hinting that it would need to
provide greater concession to non-white racial groups. After
becoming party leader, de Klerk extended his foreign contacts. He
travelled to London, where he met with British Prime Minister Margaret
Thatcher. Although she opposed the anti-apartheid movement's calls for
economic sanctions against South Africa, at the meeting she urged de
Klerk to release the imprisoned anti-apartheid activist Nelson
Mandela. He also expressed a desire to meet with representatives
of the U.S. government in Washington D.C., although the politician
James Baker informed him that the U.S. government considered it
inopportune to have de Klerk meet with President George H. W.
Becoming State President
Botha resigned on 14 August, and De Klerk was named acting state
president until 20 September, when he was elected to a full five-year
term as state president.  After he became acting president, ANC
leaders spoke out against him, believing that he would be no different
from his predecessors; he was widely regarded as a staunch
supporter of apartheid. The prominent anti-apartheid activist
Desmond Tutu shared this assessment, stating: "I don't think we've got
to even begin to pretend that there is any reason for thinking that we
are entering a new phase. It's just musical chairs". Tutu and
Allan Boesak had been planning a protest march in Cape Town, which the
security chiefs wanted to prevent. De Klerk nevertheless turned down
their proposal to ban it, agreeing to let the march proceed and
stating that "the door to a new
South Africa is open, it is not
necessary to batter it down". The march took place and was
attended by approximately 30,000 people. Further protest marches
followed in Grahamstown, Johannesburg, Pretoria, and Durban. De
Klerk later noted that his security forces could not have prevented
the marchers from gathering: "The choice, therefore, was between
breaking up an illegal march with all of the attendant risks of
violence and negative publicity, or of allowing the march to continue,
subject to conditions that could help to avoid violence and ensure
good public order." This decision marked a clear departure from
the approach of the Botha era.
As President, he authorised the continuation of secret talks in Geneva
between his National Intelligence Service and two exiled ANC leaders,
Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma. In October, he personally agreed to
meet with Tutu, Boesak, and
Frank Chikane in a private meeting in
Pretoria. That month, he also released a number of elderly
anti-apartheid activists then imprisoned, including Walter Sisulu.
He also ordered the closure of the National Security Management
System. In December he visited
Mandela in prison, speaking with
him for three hours about the idea of transitioning away from
white-minority rule. The collapse of the
Eastern Bloc and the
dissolution of the
Soviet Union meant that he no longer feared that
Marxists would manipulate the ANC. As he later related, the
collapse of "the Marxist economic system in Eastern Europe... serves
as a warning to those who insist on persisting with it in Africa.
Those who seek to force this failure of a system on South Africa
should engage in a total revision of their point of view. It should be
clear to all that it is not the answer here either."
History has placed a tremendous responsibility on the shoulders of
this country's leadership, namely the responsibility of moving our
country away from the current course of conflict and confrontation...
The hope of millions of South Africans is fixed on us. The future of
southern Africa depends on us. We dare not waver or fail.
— De Klerk's speech to Parliament, February 1990
On 2 February 1990 he gave an address to the country's parliament in
which he announced plans for sweeping reforms of the political
system. He announced that a number of banned political parties,
including the ANC and Communist Party of South Africa, would be
legalised, although stipulated that this did not constitute an
endorsement of their socialist economic policies nor of violent
actions carried out by their members. He also announced that the
Separate Amenities Act of 1953, which governed the segregation of
public facilities, would be lifted. His speech revealed that all
of those who were imprisoned solely for belonging to a banned
organisation would be freed. He declared that
Mandela would be
released from prison unconditionally; the latter was released a
week later. The vision set forth in de Klerk's address was for
South Africa to become a Western-style liberal democracy; it
envisioned a market-oriented economy which privileged private
enterprise and restricted the government's role in economics.
De Klerk later related that "that speech was mainly aimed at breaking
our stalemate in Africa and the West. Internationally we were
teetering on the edge of the abyss." Throughout
South Africa and
across the world, there was astonishment at de Klerk's move.
Foreign press coverage was largely positive and de Klerk received
messages of support from other governments. Tutu said that "It's
incredible... Give him credit. Give him credit, I do." Some black
radicals regarded it as a gimmick and that it would prove to be
without substance. It was also received negatively by some on the
white right-wing, including in the Conservative Party, who believed
that de Klerk was betraying the white population.
Further reforms followed; membership of the National Party was opened
up to non-whites. In June, parliament approved new legislation
that repealed the
Natives Land Act, 1913
Natives Land Act, 1913 and Native Trust and Land
Act, 1936. The Population Registration Act, which established the
racial classificatory guidelines for South Africa, was rescinded.
In legislative terms, he enabled the gradual end of apartheid. De
Klerk also opened the way for the negotiations of the government with
the anti-apartheid-opposition about a new constitution for the
country. Nevertheless, he was accused by
Anthony Sampson of complicity
in the violence among the ANC, the
Inkatha Freedom Party
Inkatha Freedom Party and elements
of the security forces. In Mandela: The Authorised Biography, Sampson
accuses de Klerk of permitting his ministers to build their own
Negotiations toward universal suffrage
Frederik de Klerk and
Nelson Mandela shake hands at the Annual Meeting
World Economic Forum
World Economic Forum held in
Davos in January 1992.
His presidency was dominated by the negotiation process, mainly
between his NP government and the ANC, which led to the
democratization of South Africa. In 1992, de Klerk held a whites-only
referendum on ending apartheid, with the result being an overwhelming
"yes" vote to continue negotiations to end apartheid. Nelson Mandela
was distrustful of the role played by de Klerk in the negotiations,
particularly as he believed that de Klerk was knowledgeable about
'third force' attempts to foment violence in the country and
destabilize the negotiations.
In 1990, de Klerk gave orders to end South Africa's nuclear weapons
programme; the process of nuclear disarmament was essentially
completed in 1991. The existence of the programme was not officially
acknowledged before 1993.
In 1993, De Klerk and
Mandela were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace
Prize for their work in ending apartheid. The awarding of the prize to
de Klerk was controversial, especially in the light of de Klerk's
reported admission that he ordered a massacre of supposed Azanian
Peoples' Liberation Army fighters, including teenagers, shortly before
going to Oslo in 1993. It appears that this massacre may form part
of the basis for criminal charges that the Anti-Racism Action Forum
laid against de Klerk in early 2016. Further, de Klerk's role in
the destabilization of the country during the negotiation process
through the operation of a 'third force' came to the attention of the
Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and was never ultimately
After the first universal elections in 1994, de Klerk became deputy
president in the government of national unity under Nelson Mandela, a
post he kept until 1996. In 1997 he resigned the leadership of the
National Party and retired from politics.
In 1993, de Klerk issued an apology for the actions of the apartheid
government, stating that: "It was not our intention to deprive people
of their rights and to cause misery, but eventually apartheid led to
just that. Insofar as that occurred we deeply regret it... Yes we are
sorry". Tutu urged for people to accept the apology, stating that
"saying sorry is not an easy thing to do... We should be magnanimous
and accept it as a magnanimous act", although was privately frustrated
that de Klerk's apology had been qualified and had not gone so far as
to call apartheid an intrinsically evil policy.
De Klerk had been unhappy that changes had been made to the
inauguration ceremony, rendering it multi-religious rather than
reflecting the newly elected leader's particular denomination.
When he was being sworn in, and the chief justice said "So help me
God", de Klerk did not repeat this, instead stating, in Afrikaans: "So
help me the triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit".
Mandela reappointed de Klerk's finance minister, Derek Keys, and
retained Chris Stals, a former member of the Broederbond, as the head
of the Central Bank. De Klerk supported the coalition's economic
policies, stating that it "accepted a broad framework of responsible
De Klerk's working relationship with
Mandela was often strained, with
the former finding it difficult adjusting to the fact that he was no
longer president. De Klerk also felt that
humiliated him, while
Mandela found de Klerk to be needlessly
provocative in cabinet. One dispute occurred in September 1995,
Mandela gave a
Johannesburg speech criticising the National
Party. Angered, de Klerk avoided
Mandela until the latter requested
they meet; when they ran into each other, they publicly argued in the
Mandela later expressed regret for their disagreement but did
not apologise for his original comments. De Klerk was also having
problems from within his own party, some of whose members claimed that
he was neglecting the party while in the government.
Many in the National Party—including many members of its executive
committee—were unhappy with the other parties agreed upon a new
constitution in May 1996. The party had wanted the constitution to
guarantee that it would be represented in the government until 2004,
although it did not do this. On 9 May, de Klerk announced that the
National Party would withdraw from the coalition government. The
decision shocked several of his six fellow Afrikaner cabinet
colleagues; Pik Botha, for example, was left without a job as a
Roelf Meyer reported feeling betrayed by de Klerk's act,
Leon Wessels thought that de Klerk had not tried hard enough to
make the coalition work. De Klerk announced that he would lead the
National Party in vigorous opposition to Mandela's government, stating
that he wanted to ensure "a proper multi-party democracy, without
which there may be a danger of
South Africa lapsing into the African
pattern of one-party states".
Truth and Reconciliation Commission
The chair of the TRC, Desmond Tutu, was frustrated that de Klerk did
not take responsibility for the actions of the state security services
in the early 1990s
In de Klerk's view, his greatest defeat in the negotiations with
Mandela had been his inability to secure a blanket amnesty for all
those working for the government or state during the apartheid
period. De Klerk was unhappy with the formation of the Truth and
Reconciliation Commission (TRC). He had hoped that the TRC would
be made up of an equal number of individuals from both the old and new
governments, as there had been in the Chilean human rights commission.
Instead, the TRC was designed to broadly reflect the wider diversity
of South African society, and contained only two members who had
explicitly supported apartheid, one a member of a right-wing group
that had opposed de Klerk's National Party. De Klerk did not
object to Tutu being selected as the TRC's chair for he regarded him
as politically independent of Mandela's government, but he was upset
Alex Boraine had been selected as its deputy chair, later saying
of Boraine: "beneath an urbane and deceptively affable exterior beat
the heart of a zealot and an inquisitor."
De Klerk appeared before the TRC hearing to testify for Vlakplaas
commanders who were accused of having committed human rights abuses
during the apartheid era. He acknowledged that security forces had
resorted to "unconventional strategies" in dealing with anti-apartheid
revolutionaries, but that "within my knowledge and experience, they
never included the authorisation of assassination, murder, torture,
rape, assault or the like". After further evidence of said abuses
was produced by the commission, de Klerk stated that he found the
revelations to be "as shocking and as abhorrent as anybody else" but
insisted that he and other senior party members were not willing to
accept responsibility for the "criminal actions of a handful of
operatives", stating that their behaviour was "not authorised [and]
not intended" by his government. Given the widespread and systemic
nature of the abuses that had taken place, as well as statements by
security officers that their actions had been sanctioned by higher
ranking figures, Tutu questioned how de Klerk and other government
figures could not have been aware of them. Tutu had hoped that de
Klerk or another senior white political figure from the apartheid era
would openly accept responsibility for the human rights abuses,
South Africa to move on; this was something that de
Klerk would not do.
The TRC found de Klerk guilty of being an accessory to gross
violations of human rights on the basis that as State President he had
been told that
P. W. Botha
P. W. Botha had authorised the bombing of Khotso House
but had not revealed this information to the Committee. De Klerk
challenged the TRC on this point, and it backed down. When the
final TRC report was released 2002, it made a more limited accusation:
that de Klerk had failed to give full disclosure about events that
took place during his Presidency and that in view of his knowledge
about the Khotso House bombing, his statement that none of his
colleagues had authorised gross human rights abuses was
"indefensible". In his later autobiography, de Klerk acknowledged
that the TRC did significant damage to his public image.
In 1996, de Klerk was offered the Harper Fellowship at Yale Law
School. He declined, citing protests at the university. De Klerk
did, however, speak at
Central Connecticut State University
Central Connecticut State University the day
before his fellowship would have begun.
De Klerk with US Secretary of State
Hillary Clinton in 2012.
In 1998, de Klerk and his wife of 38 years, Marike de Klerk, were
divorced following the discovery of his affair with Elita
Georgiades, then the wife of Tony Georgiades, a Greek shipping
tycoon who had allegedly given de Klerk and the NP financial
support. Soon after his divorce, de Klerk and Georgiades were
married. His divorce and remarriage scandalised conservative South
African opinion, especially among the Calvinist Afrikaners. In 1999,
his autobiography, The Last Trek – A New Beginning, was published.
In 2001, following the murder of his former wife, the manuscript of
her own autobiography, A Place Where the Sun Shines Again, was
submitted to de Klerk, who urged the publishers to suppress a chapter
dealing with his infidelity.
In 1999, de Klerk established the pro-peace
FW de Klerk Foundation of
which he is the chairman. De Klerk is also chairman of the Global
Leadership Foundation, headquartered in London, which he set up in
2004, an organisation which works to support democratic leadership,
prevent and resolve conflict through mediation and promote good
governance in the form of democratic institutions, open markets, human
rights and the rule of law. It does so by making available, discreetly
and in confidence, the experience of former leaders to today's
national leaders. It is a not-for-profit organisation composed of
former heads of government and senior governmental and international
organisation officials who work closely with heads of government on
governance-related issues of concern to them.
On 3 December 2001,
Marike de Klerk
Marike de Klerk was found stabbed and strangled to
death in her
Cape Town flat. De Klerk, who was on a brief visit to
Stockholm, Sweden, to celebrate the 100-year anniversary of the Nobel
Prize foundation, announced he would immediately return to mourn his
dead ex-wife. The atrocity was reportedly condemned strongly by South
Thabo Mbeki and Winnie Mandela, among others, who
openly spoke in favour of Marike de Klerk. On 6
December 21-year-old security guard Luyanda Mboniswa was arrested for
the murder. On 15 May 2003, he received two life sentences for murder,
as well as three years for breaking into Marike de Klerk's
In 2004, de Klerk announced that he was quitting the New National
Party and seeking a new political home after it was announced that the
NNP would merge with the ruling ANC. That same year, while giving an
interview to US journalist Richard Stengel, de Klerk was asked whether
South Africa had turned out the way he envisioned it back in 1990. His
There are a number of imperfections in the new
South Africa where I
would have hoped that things would be better, but on balance I think
we have basically achieved what we set out to achieve. And if I were
to draw balance sheets on where
South Africa stands now, I would say
that the positive outweighs the negative by far. There is a tendency
by commentators across the world to focus on the few negatives which
are quite negative, like how are we handling AIDS, like our role
vis-à-vis Zimbabwe. But the positives – the stability in South
Africa, the adherence to well-balanced economic policies, fighting
inflation, doing all the right things in order to lay the basis and
the foundation for sustained economic growth – are in place.
In 2008, he repeated in a speech that "despite all the negatives
facing South Africa, he is very positive about the country".
In 2006, he underwent surgery for a malignant tumour in his colon,
discovered after an examination on 3 June. His condition deteriorated
sharply, and he underwent a second operation after developing
respiratory problems. On 13 June, it was announced that he was to
undergo a tracheotomy. He recovered and on 11 September
2006 gave a speech at Kent State University Stark Campus.
In January 2007, de Klerk was a speaker promoting peace and democracy
in the world at the "Towards a Global Forum on New Democracies" event
in Taipei, Taiwan, along with other dignitaries including Poland's
Lech Wałęsa and Taiwan's then president Chen Shui-Bian.
De Klerk with the Israeli President
Reuven Rivlin in 2015
De Klerk is an Honorary Patron of the University Philosophical Society
of Trinity College, Dublin, and Honorary Chairman of the Prague
Society for International Cooperation. He has also received the
Gold Medal for Outstanding Contribution to Public Discourse from the
College Historical Society
College Historical Society of Trinity College, Dublin, for his
contribution to ending apartheid.
De Klerk is also a Member of the Advisory Board of the Global Panel
Foundation based in Berlin, Copenhagen, New York, Prague, Sydney and
Toronto – founded by the Dutch entrepreneur Bas Spuybroek in 1988,
with the support of Dutch billionaire Frans Lurvink and former Dutch
Foreign Minister Hans van den Broek. The Global Panel Foundation is
known for its behind-the-scenes work in public policy and the annual
presentation of the
Hanno R. Ellenbogen Citizenship Award with the
Prague Society for International Cooperation.
After the inauguration of
Jacob Zuma as South Africa's president in
May 2009, de Klerk said he is optimistic that Zuma and his government
can "confound the prophets of doom".
In a BBC interview broadcast in April 2012, he said he lived in an
all-white neighbourhood. He had five servants, three coloured and two
black: "We are one great big family together; we have the best of
relationships." About Nelson Mandela, he said, "When
Mandela goes it
will be a moment when all South Africans put away their political
differences, will take hands, and will together honour maybe the
biggest known South African that has ever lived."
Upon hearing of the death of Mandela, de Klerk said: "He was a great
unifier and a very, very special man in this regard beyond everything
else he did. This emphasis on reconciliation was his biggest
In 2015, de Klerk wrote to The Times newspaper in the UK criticising
moves to remove a statue to
Cecil Rhodes at Oriel College, Oxford.
He was subsequently criticized by some activists who described it as
"ironic" that the last apartheid President should be defending a
statue of a man labelled by critics as the "architect of
Economic Freedom Fighters
Economic Freedom Fighters called for him to be
stripped of his Nobel Peace Prize.
Bust of De Klerk at the Voortrekker Monument, Pretoria
De Klerk was widely regarded as a politically conservative figure in
South Africa. At the same time, he was flexible rather than
dogmatic in his approach to political issues. He often hedged his
bets and sought to accommodate divergent perspectives, favouring
compromise over confrontation. Within the National Party, he
continually strove for unity, coming to be regarded—according to his
brother—as "a party man, a veritable Mr National Party". To stem
defections from the right-wing end of the National Party, he made
"ultra-conservative noises". This general approach led to the
perception that he was "trying to be all things to all men".
De Klerk stated that within the party, he "never formed part of a
political school of thought, and I deliberately kept out of the
cliques and foments of the enlightened and conservative factions in
the party. If the policy I propounded was ultra-conservative, then
that was the policy; it was not necessarily I who was
ultra-conservative. I saw my role in the party as that of an
interpreter of the party's real median policy at any stage." De
Klerk stated that "The silver thread throughout my career was my
advocacy of National Party policy in all its various formulations. I
refrained from adjusting that policy or adapting it to my own liking
or convictions. I analysed it as it was formulated, to the
For much of his career, de Klerk believed in apartheid and its system
of racial segregation. According to his brother, de Klerk
underwent a "political conversion" that took him from supporting
apartheid to facilitating its demolition. This change was not "a
dramatic event" however, but "was built... on pragmatism - it evolved
as a process." He did not believe that
South Africa would become a
"non-racial society", but rather sought to build a "non-racist
society" in which ethnic divisions remained; in his view "I do not
believe in the existence of anything like a non-racial society in the
literal sense of the word", citing the example of the United States
and United Kingdom where there was no legal racial segregation but
that distinct racial groups continued to exist.
Personality and personal life
Glad and Blanton stated that de Klerk's "political choices were
undergirded by self-confidence and commitment to the common good."
His brother Willem stated that de Klerk's demeanour was marked by
"soberness, humility and calm", and that he was an honest,
intelligent, and open minded individual. Willem stated that "he
keeps an ear to the ground and is sensitive to the slightest tremors",
and that it was this which made him "a superb politician". His
former wife Marike described de Klerk as being "extremely sensitive to
beautiful things", exhibiting something akin to an artistic
Reception and legacy
Glad and Blanton stated that de Klerk, along with Mandela,
"accomplished the rare feat of bringing about systemic revolution
through peaceful means."
South Africa's Conservative Party came to regard him as its most hated
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South Africa is one of the most unequal societies in the world",
article by de Klerk in Global Education Magazine, in the special
edition for the International Day for the Eradication of
Poverty (17 October 2012)
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Frederik Willem de Klerk.
Documentary on F.W. de Klerk
FW de Klerk
FW de Klerk Foundation
Video of F.W. de Klerk's November 2005 visit to Richmond Hill High
School on Google Video
Photos & Recordings of his visit to the College Historical Society
in March 2008
Ubben Lecture at
DePauw University (includes video, audio and photos)
 Extensive Interview in the Huffington Post
The Global Panel Foundation
Appearances on C-SPAN
Pieter Willem Botha
State President of South Africa
as President of South Africa
Deputy President of South Africa
Served alongside: Thabo Mbeki
Nelson Mandela (1994–1999)
F.W. de Klerk
Mohammed Valli Moosa
Kraai van Niekerk
Dawid de Villiers
Heads of State of South Africa
State President (1961–1994)
Charles Robberts Swart
Jozua François Naudé*
Jacobus Johannes Fouché
Johannes de Klerk*
B. J. Vorster
P. W. Botha
F. W. de Klerk
President (from 1994)
Home affairs ministers of South Africa
J. de Klerk
F. W. de Klerk
Laureates of the Nobel Peace Prize
1901 Henry Dunant / Frédéric Passy
1902 Élie Ducommun / Charles Gobat
1903 Randal Cremer
1904 Institut de Droit International
1905 Bertha von Suttner
1906 Theodore Roosevelt
1907 Ernesto Moneta / Louis Renault
1908 Klas Arnoldson / Fredrik Bajer
1909 A. M. F. Beernaert / Paul Estournelles de Constant
1910 International Peace Bureau
1911 Tobias Asser / Alfred Fried
1912 Elihu Root
1913 Henri La Fontaine
1917 International Committee of the Red Cross
1919 Woodrow Wilson
1920 Léon Bourgeois
1921 Hjalmar Branting / Christian Lange
1922 Fridtjof Nansen
1925 Austen Chamberlain / Charles Dawes
1926 Aristide Briand / Gustav Stresemann
1927 Ferdinand Buisson / Ludwig Quidde
1929 Frank B. Kellogg
1930 Nathan Söderblom
1931 Jane Addams / Nicholas Butler
1933 Norman Angell
1934 Arthur Henderson
1935 Carl von Ossietzky
1936 Carlos Saavedra Lamas
1937 Robert Cecil
1938 Nansen International Office for Refugees
1944 International Committee of the Red Cross
1945 Cordell Hull
1946 Emily Balch / John Mott
1947 Friends Service Council / American Friends Service Committee
1949 John Boyd Orr
1950 Ralph Bunche
1951 Léon Jouhaux
1952 Albert Schweitzer
1953 George Marshall
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
1957 Lester B. Pearson
1958 Georges Pire
1959 Philip Noel-Baker
1960 Albert Lutuli
1961 Dag Hammarskjöld
1962 Linus Pauling
1963 International Committee of the Red Cross / League of Red
1964 Martin Luther King Jr.
1968 René Cassin
1969 International Labour Organization
1970 Norman Borlaug
1971 Willy Brandt
1973 Lê Đức Thọ (declined award) / Henry Kissinger
1974 Seán MacBride / Eisaku Satō
1975 Andrei Sakharov
1976 Betty Williams / Mairead Corrigan
1977 Amnesty International
1978 Anwar Sadat / Menachem Begin
1979 Mother Teresa
1980 Adolfo Pérez Esquivel
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
1982 Alva Myrdal / Alfonso García Robles
1983 Lech Wałęsa
1984 Desmond Tutu
1985 International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War
1986 Elie Wiesel
1987 Óscar Arias
1988 UN Peacekeeping Forces
1989 Tenzin Gyatso (14th Dalai Lama)
1990 Mikhail Gorbachev
1991 Aung San Suu Kyi
1992 Rigoberta Menchú
1993 Nelson Mandela / F. W. de Klerk
1994 Shimon Peres / Yitzhak Rabin / Yasser Arafat
1995 Pugwash Conferences / Joseph Rotblat
1996 Carlos Belo / José Ramos-Horta
1997 International Campaign to Ban Landmines / Jody Williams
1998 John Hume / David Trimble
1999 Médecins Sans Frontières
2000 Kim Dae-jung
2001 United Nations / Kofi Annan
2002 Jimmy Carter
2003 Shirin Ebadi
2004 Wangari Maathai
2005 International Atomic Energy Agency / Mohamed ElBaradei
2006 Grameen Bank / Muhammad Yunus
2007 Al Gore / Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
2008 Martti Ahtisaari
2009 Barack Obama
2010 Liu Xiaobo
2011 Ellen Johnson Sirleaf / Leymah Gbowee / Tawakkol Karman
2012 European Union
2013 Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons
2014 Kailash Satyarthi / Malala Yousafzai
2015 Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet
2016 Juan Manuel Santos
2017 International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons
Nobel Prize laureates
Kary B. Mullis (United States)
Michael Smith (Canada)
Toni Morrison (United States)
Nelson Mandela (South Africa)
Frederik Willem de Klerk (South Africa)
Russell Alan Hulse
Russell Alan Hulse (United States)
Joseph Hooton Taylor Jr.
Joseph Hooton Taylor Jr. (United States)
Physiology or Medicine
Richard J. Roberts
Richard J. Roberts (United Kingdom)
Phillip A. Sharp (United States)
Robert Fogel (United States)
Douglass North (United States)
Nobel Prize recipients
Leaders of the (Parliamentary) Opposition in South Africa
Ministers of Education in South Africa
J. de Klerk
van der Spuy
F. W. de Klerk
Time Persons of the Year
Charles Lindbergh (1927)
Walter Chrysler (1928)
Owen D. Young
Owen D. Young (1929)
Mohandas Gandhi (1930)
Pierre Laval (1931)
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin D. Roosevelt (1932)
Hugh S. Johnson
Hugh S. Johnson (1933)
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin D. Roosevelt (1934)
Haile Selassie (1935)
Wallis Simpson (1936)
Chiang Kai-shek /
Soong Mei-ling (1937)
Adolf Hitler (1938)
Joseph Stalin (1939)
Winston Churchill (1940)
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin D. Roosevelt (1941)
Joseph Stalin (1942)
George Marshall (1943)
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Dwight D. Eisenhower (1944)
Harry S. Truman
Harry S. Truman (1945)
James F. Byrnes
James F. Byrnes (1946)
George Marshall (1947)
Harry S. Truman
Harry S. Truman (1948)
Winston Churchill (1949)
The American Fighting-Man (1950)
Mohammed Mosaddeq (1951)
Elizabeth II (1952)
Konrad Adenauer (1953)
John Foster Dulles
John Foster Dulles (1954)
Harlow Curtice (1955)
Hungarian Freedom Fighters (1956)
Nikita Khrushchev (1957)
Charles de Gaulle
Charles de Gaulle (1958)
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Dwight D. Eisenhower (1959)
George Beadle / Charles Draper / John Enders / Donald
A. Glaser /
Joshua Lederberg /
Willard Libby /
Linus Pauling / Edward
Purcell / Isidor Rabi /
Emilio Segrè /
William Shockley / Edward
Teller / Charles Townes /
James Van Allen
James Van Allen / Robert Woodward (1960)
John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy (1961)
Pope John XXIII
Pope John XXIII (1962)
Martin Luther King Jr.
Martin Luther King Jr. (1963)
Lyndon B. Johnson
Lyndon B. Johnson (1964)
William Westmoreland (1965)
The Generation Twenty-Five and Under (1966)
Lyndon B. Johnson
Lyndon B. Johnson (1967)
Apollo 8 Astronauts:
William Anders /
Frank Borman / Jim Lovell
The Middle Americans (1969)
Willy Brandt (1970)
Richard Nixon (1971)
Henry Kissinger /
Richard Nixon (1972)
John Sirica (1973)
King Faisal (1974)
Susan Brownmiller /
Kathleen Byerly /
Alison Cheek /
Jill Conway /
Betty Ford / Ella Grasso / Carla Hills / Barbara Jordan
Billie Jean King
Billie Jean King /
Susie Sharp /
Carol Sutton / Addie Wyatt (1975)
Jimmy Carter (1976)
Anwar Sadat (1977)
Deng Xiaoping (1978)
Ayatollah Khomeini (1979)
Ronald Reagan (1980)
Lech Wałęsa (1981)
The Computer (1982)
Ronald Reagan /
Yuri Andropov (1983)
Peter Ueberroth (1984)
Deng Xiaoping (1985)
Corazon Aquino (1986)
Mikhail Gorbachev (1987)
The Endangered Earth (1988)
Mikhail Gorbachev (1989)
George H. W. Bush
George H. W. Bush (1990)
Ted Turner (1991)
Bill Clinton (1992)
Yasser Arafat /
F. W. de Klerk
F. W. de Klerk /
Nelson Mandela /
Yitzhak Rabin (1993)
Pope John Paul II
Pope John Paul II (1994)
Newt Gingrich (1995)
David Ho (1996)
Andrew Grove (1997)
Bill Clinton /
Ken Starr (1998)
Jeffrey P. Bezos (1999)
George W. Bush
George W. Bush (2000)
Rudolph Giuliani (2001)
The Whistleblowers: Cynthia Cooper /
Coleen Rowley / Sherron Watkins
The American Soldier (2003)
George W. Bush
George W. Bush (2004)
The Good Samaritans:
Bill Gates /
Melinda Gates (2005)
Vladimir Putin (2007)
Barack Obama (2008)
Ben Bernanke (2009)
Mark Zuckerberg (2010)
The Protester (2011)
Barack Obama (2012)
Pope Francis (2013)
Ebola Fighters: Dr. Jerry Brown / Dr.
Kent Brantly / Ella
Watson-Stryker / Foday Gollah /
Salome Karwah (2014)
Angela Merkel (2015)
Donald Trump (2016)
The Silence Breakers (2017)
Order of Mapungubwe
2002: Nelson Mandela, Allan Cormack, FW de Klerk, Basil Schonland,
Peter Beighton, Hamilton Naki
2004: Sydney Brenner, Tshilidzi Marwala, Batmanathan Dayanand Reddy
2005: John Maxwell Coetzee, Aaron Klug, Frank Nabarro, Tebello
Nyokong, Himladevi Soodyall
2006: Selig Percy Amoils, George Ellis, Lionel Opie, Patricia Berjak
2007: Claire Penn, Sibusiso Sibisi, Valerie Mizrahi
2008: Doris Lessing, Wieland Gevers, Phuti Ngoepe, Tim Noakes,
2009: Bongani Mayosi
2010: Johann Lutjeharms, Monique Zaahl, Douglas Butterworth
2011: Pieter Steyn
2012: Oliver Reginald Tambo
2014: Malegapuru Makgoba, Glenda Gray, George Ekama, Bernie Fanaroff,
Quarraisha Abdool Karim
ISNI: 0000 0001 2277 8233
BNF: cb12241018x (data)