Political parties and public participation – Op ed

Abdul M Fatoma: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 17 May 2023:

How do you recall a party’s promises after the election has concluded and the results have been announced? The document that functions as the basis for these promises is referred to as the Election Manifesto. A manifesto is a document released by political parties prior to elections. It describes the party’s priorities and policies should it form a government.

An election manifesto usually outlines the broad vision of a political party and lists specific action points. In a diverse country like India, a manifesto serves as a common denominator for a party’s policies. It is also very important for voters to hold parties accountable for promises made before the elections.

In many cases, manifestos are released very close to the election date, leaving no time for voters to even go through them. Most democracies do not have legal provisions or guidelines regarding manifestos.

A party doesn’t need to publish a manifesto. However, in a healthy democracy, an election manifesto serves as a sign of a party’s commitment to voters. It also helps voters make informed choices about who to vote for and who not to.

How do you keep in mind the specific promises made by each political party once the election results are in? Well, the Election Manifesto is the document on which these pledges are based.

A manifesto is a document that political parties present before elections. It lays forth their top priorities and policies should they be elected to office. A political party’s election manifesto will typically detail the party’s overarching goals and plan of action. A party’s manifesto provides a unifying statement of principles in a country like Sierra Leone with multiple tribes.

Voters should also make sure that political parties live up to their pre-election pledges. Manifestos are often only made available to the public a few months, weeks, and days before an election, allowing little time for voters to read them.

Most democracies do not have any definite laws or principles that govern manifestos. Parties are not required to publish manifestos. But an electoral manifesto shows a party’s dedication to voters in a robust democracy. As a bonus, it aids voters in making educated decisions about who to vote for and who not to vote for.

However, we are also faced with real-time public information challenges with some, if not all, political parties; some don’t have any websites to inform the general public about their political party and plan activities, and some don’t even have social media pages.

Political parties need to have direct engagement with the people before, during, and after elections.

The right to information is a fundamental human rights issue.

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