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Section 42(2) in the Government White Paper is Catastropic to the Democracy of Sierra Leone

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By Emmanuel Amara Sowa

The legal definition of 50% +1 electoral system, it is a method and rules of counting votes to determine the outcome of elections. Winners may be determined by a plurality, a majority (more than 50% of the vote), an extraordinary majority (a percentage of the vote greater than 50%), or unanimity. Majority of Sierra Leoneans are strongly against the amendment of section 42(2) in the just concluded government white paper in the constitution of Sierra Leone. Which states that “a threshold of more than fifty percent of the valid votes cast should suffice for a candidate to be elected President.”. The position of government on the said subject is a calculated ploy to strangle democracy in our nation. The multi-party system which Sierra Leone is practicing, is a political system in which multiple political parties across the political spectrum run for national elections, and all have the capacity to gain control of government offices, separately or in coalition. Multi-party system tends to be more common in parliamentary systems and several parties compete for power and all of them have reasonable chance of forming a government, and it is an enabler for sustainable development.

These are some of the countries that are practicing multi-party democracy in the world: Argentina, Armenia, Belgium, Brazil, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway,  Philippines, Poland, Sweden, Sierra Leone, Tunisia, and Ukraine. Usually, no single party has a parliamentary majority by itself. Instead, multiple political parties are compelled to form compromised coalitions for the purpose of developing power blocks and attaining legitimate mandate. However, we are more comfortable with the multi-party system, with two, three or more strong parties competing through the ballot box. The undermentioned are the dangers that our fragile democracy will confront with regard the threshold of more than fifty percent of the valid votes cast should suffice for a candidate to be elected as President that the SLPP government is pushing for.

√ It cannot be relied upon to provide a legislature reflecting the various shades of opinions expressed at the election and it does not necessarily place in power a government supported by the majority of the electorates.

√ The fifty percent plus one system can deny representation in the legislature to quite substantial level of minority opinion and can provide large differences in the number of representatives elected with only a small difference in the number of votes obtained through the operation of the winning bonus.

√ It denies the democratic rights of the minorities.

√ Fifty percent plus one system cannot ever represent the will of the minority.

√ Under this system, the voices of minority parties cannot be heard and their views cannot be translated into law.

√ It cannot democratize and bring in cohesiveness in Sierra Leone.

√ The Fifty percent plus one system contain less accountability to the people.

√ In such a system, it closes down political interaction.

On the 50% + 1 that one can be described as economical popularity making it for an unpopular govt to easy reague it way to power through fight for just 50% by dividing the country into two halves and look for 1 by changing the figures like somebody did in Falaba in recently conducted bye elections . 55% can define a confident legitimacy, participatory and depicts the will of the people which cannot be easily raped.

Majority of Sierra Leoneans and opposition parties are really dissatisfied and not ready to go by this submission made by SLPP government. The international community, development partners and Elections Management Bodies EMB’s must speedily intervene in this current circumstance in order to save our democracy. Nevertheless, the 55% threshold for presidency is the best fit towards elections and the consolidation of democracy in Serra Leone after a bitter civil carnage.