The forthcoming elections will be held under the 1997 Constitution, in other words; anyone with a simple majority wins. Given the mushrooming of political parties, don’t you worry that the incumbent might win even by the slimmest of margins?
Yes. With the simple majority rule and the high number of candidates, in addition to the power of incumbency, Barrow has a high chance of winning. This is because the more candidates we have the more the votes will be taken away from the traditionally bigger parties particularly which may benefit the incumbent.
Either the votes come to him directly or because votes are withdrawn from the bigger parties and distributed among the rest of the parties, it reduces their ability to stay on top thereby giving way to the incumbent to win even though it is a young party. Therefore, by default, the incumbent could win simply because of the large number of parties plus the simple majority system.
There are no doubt that the two major gladiators in the fight will be the UDP and NPP. However, there are also a number of major political parties that are expected to win significant votes. Parties like PDOIS, GDC, APRC, CA, and others. Don’t you think this splintering of the opposition vote can only help Barrow cling on to power?
Yes. With the new votes it will gain because of incumbency and what all of that entails, Barrow will benefit from all the other parties especially the older ones, which together give him substantial votes and hence potentially propel him to rise above them even if it is by one percentage point thus making him the winner.
NewDay has spoken to a few political parties on the possibility of a coalition and the response has been that it is premature to talk about that topic. Given that it is effectively only about 5 months before D-day, do you agree that it is too soon to begin coalition talks?
I do not think it is premature. Rather it is in fact getting late to talk about it. However, I do not seem to have any confidence that there will be any significant coalition given the bad blood between the parties thanks to the bad experience of the 2016 Coalition.
That aside, I do not think as a country we should go for a coalition based on the initiative of the parties themselves. If we are to learn from the lessons of 2016, it is for civil society to generate a coalition of parties based on clear terms to which the parties would sign up to. That is, to have a non-partisan individual as a flagbearer.
Preferably someone not even involved with politics. Then to set up a transitional period of 18 – 24 months focused only on constitutional, legal and institutional reforms as well as the implementation of the TRRC recommendations.
It must have a technical cabinet of non-partisan professionals whose aim is to create a new democratic governance architecture beginning with a new constitution. When they leave office, the president and members of the cabinet shall not seek high office for the next five years.
I think this is what the civil society should do and the parties if they truly stand for a better Gambia as they claim, should support this arrangement.
This arrangement is what will bring about system change and usher in the New Gambia. Otherwise, I have a feeling that if one party wins the election, the dream of a system change will be hard to achieve because the usual political fanfare will take over.
That party will be more preoccupied with consolidating its hold on power and with political expediency, we will see the same typical attitude of delays and derailment and poor decisions in the management of the state.
Opposition political parties here have historically found it difficult to coalesce, and this is believed to be one of the reasons former President Yahya Jammeh was able to dominate the space for so long. Are you afraid we’re on the same path as Barrow?
Published on June 30, 2021