Dr. Sylvia Olayinka Blyden, OOR:
Sierra Leone Telegraph: 11 December 2017
Sierra Leone’s Western Area is the district most famous for swing voting. In 1996 and 2002 elections, the SLPP got the highest percentage of votes in the Western Area. In 2002, the SLPP got 60% of the Western Area votes.
By 2004 and on to pivotal 2007 elections, the APC had taken over Western Area. By 2012 due to the leverage brought by certain strategists and master politicians like Ernest Bai Koroma, the Western Area gave over 70% of its votes to APC.
What will happen in 2018? That is the focus of this article. Let us take a random constituency in the Western Area.
As is usual in Sierra Leone, most citizens vote for the same party, in both Presidential and Parliamentary elections.
So, assuming the All For All (444) voting pattern in 2018, then let’s run my hypothesis, as in the title of this article. Six political parties can get the following results in the Western Area Constituency for both Presidential and Parliamentary elections:
Party A =38%, Party B =23%, Party C =19%, Party D =13%, Party E =5%, and Party F =2%.
Based on dictates of the Sierra Leone Constitution, the Party A candidate with just 38% is automatically elected to Parliament under the First-Past-The-Post system, even though 62% of the voters in that Constituency did not vote for Party A.
62% shared their votes among other party candidates, but since the Party A candidate got the highest percentage (38%), so he/she becomes the duly elected Parliamentarian.
What this means is that despite the advent of all the new ‘populist’ parties, they still may not stand the chance of clinching any seat in the Western Area. The APC is most likely going to sweep all the seats – albeit with much lower percentages.
Similarly, vast majority, if not all of the seats in the North of the country could be won by APC even though APC’s percentage wins may not be in high 65% to 90% range which APC candidates scored in 2012.
However, for an APC Presidential Candidate whose national total votes is less than 50%, then that APC candidate now has to go into a Run-Off election, since the 55% threshold was not met. That Run-Off election will be woefully lost if the opposition SLPP, ADP, NGC, C4C/PMDC and CDC gang up against APC for the Run-Off.
I deliberately use 50% instead of 55%. Run-offs only need 50%+1. So if a party in the first round, already has above 50% but less than 55% threshold, the party is sure of winning the second round.
The bottom-line is that, under the 1991 Constitution which gives a First-Past-The-Post requirement for Parliamentary elections, but a 55% threshold for Presidential election, it means a political party can clinch vast majority of seats in Parliament, even though its parliamentary candidates got unimpressive percentages – far less than even 40%.
Yet, despite their strong majority in Parliament, such party can still go on to woefully lose the Presidency in any ensuing Run-Off elections.
The concluding question is whether the ruling APC still stands tall in our strongholds? I have done a SWOT analysis of APC for the Western Area. I also confidently know the SWOT analysis of APC in Kissi Chiefdoms of Kailahun, where in 2012, we won a seat from SLPP’s Tamba Sam.
Can my APC party retain our 70% strength in Western Area? Can we retain our Kissi seat in Kailahun? Food for deep thought.
I am predicting that the next general elections next March will produce spectacular democratic outcomes.