Liberia: Lessons Ruling CDC, Opposition Can Learn From By-Elections Meltdown
The results of Tuesday’s by-elections have shown the following:
That Senator PYJ is no longer the godfather of Nimba. His charm over Nimba is nearly dead. Those who are his challengers for the senate seat in Nimba in 2023 can be hopeful.
*The voters have continued to reject every candidate that President Weah and the CDC put forward to them. If this pattern continues, President Weah himself may be rejected in 2023, making him a one term president?
*That money alone cannot win votes. The voters have continued to take from those who are dishing out money but vote their candidates of choice instead. Smart corruption? Hmm
*That relationship with the voters matters. The voters are still more likely to vote for candidates that they know than outsiders and/or total strangers.
*That the popularity of a candidate matters. As we are still a popularity-driven democracy rather than an issue-driven one, it’s important to pay attention to what the voters are saying and/or not saying about certain candidates (the NARRATIVES).
*That running as an independent is turning out to be a lucky charm. The voters overwhelmingly rejected candidates from the ruling CDC and main opposition CPP in favour of independent candidates.
*That last-minute BIG CROWDS do not necessarily translate into votes. We saw the ruling CDC and main opposition CPP battled for crowds in Bong and Nimba. Are the voters telling us that they may jump in for the fun, food, t-shirts and cash but they certainly know who they are voting for?
*The CDC lost in Nimba, Bong and even in Grand Gedeh (their strongest hold)? These follow their defeats in Montserrado, Bassa, Lofa and Bong (again) in 2020. Our elections are still very regional and tribal, where will President Weah’s second term votes come from? The southeast? Can VP Taylor and PYJ deliver Bong and Nimba respectively to the MIGHTY coalition?
Both the ruling CDC and main opposition CPP must review these results and readjust going into 2023. We must listen to the voters. Unpopular presidential candidates will be rejected. Money alone won’t take any candidate there; we need to put forward candidates who the voters know and can relate with. Popularity will still (sadly) be the most important thing going into 2023, not just good ideas! And those who intend to run as independents for the presidency can be hopeful.