The Democratic Alliance is the result of many parties and movements coming together over the years and coalescing around the vision of One Nation with One Future underpinned by Freedom, Fairness and Opportunity for All South Africans. It has counted among its leaders prominent anti-apartheid activists such as Helen Suzman, Colin Eglin, Harry Schwarz and Frederik van Zyl Slabbert.
In 1959 a number of liberal members of the United Party broke away after the United Party voted against returning land to the black majority. The breakaway members formed the Progressive Party. Dr Jan Steytler, a former Cape leader of the United Party, was elected the first leader of the new party. He continued as party leader until his retirement in December 1970. The PP opposed apartheid and took its stand on constitutional reform, calling for an entrenched constitution in which the powers of the provinces or federal states would be constitutionally protected. It stood, too, for an economy based on free enterprise.