Who will rule af­ter Satur­day?

Lesotho Times - - Feedback - So­fonea Shale

WHEN the date for the 28 Fe­bru­ary 2015 elec­tions was an­nounced, acres of me­dia space were cov­ered in dis­sect­ing the is­sue. This spe­cial ar­ti­cle on elec­tions is one such ex­am­ple.

Such is­sues as the his­tor­i­cal per­spec­tive of elec­tions, the pro­cesses and pro­ce­dures and many oth­ers are ex­am­ples of what has been cov­ered. Though many ques­tions were asked and re­sponded to, oth­ers still linger.

The op­ti­mism on the one hand and pes­simism ex­pressed on the other about the hold­ing of elec­tions in 2015, have not only de­fined the man­ner in which most peo­ple view them, but also in­form the way they in­ter­act with the process.

The erst­while coali­tion gov­ern­ment part­ners have ac­cused each an­other of bring­ing about the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s end, and that has been their cam­paign mes­sage. How­ever, what has been con­spic­u­ously miss­ing in this de­bate is the dis­cus­sion on the pos­si­ble out­comes in a man­ner that goes be­yond per­sonal at­tach­ments and sen­ti­ments.

Though sce­nario build­ing or anal­y­sis is con­sid­ered one of the most in­ter­est­ing sub­jects within po­lit­i­cal science, it is among the least pre­ferred branches of study. Yet, it is the most rel­e­vant and what or­di­nary cit­i­zens in gen­eral and vot­ers in par­tic­u­lar want to hear from po­lit­i­cal sci­en­tists.

The press­ing ques­tion for those in­ter­ested in how the par­ties will fare is who will lead the next gov­ern­ment? While it may not be re­al­is­tic to at­tempt to re­spond to this ques­tion, this ar­ti­cle shares some pos­si­ble out­comes and builds sce­nar­ios out of the Satur­day polls.

To re­cap, it would be in­ter­est­ing to look at how par­ties shared spoils in the 2012 na­tional As­sem­bly Elec­tions. Of the to­tal num­ber of 551 726 peo­ple who voted, the Demo­cratic Congress (DC) which was the most voted sin­gle po­lit­i­cal party in the pre­vi­ous elec­tions got 218 366, which makes up 39 per­cent of the to­tal vote, and this was trans­lated into 48 seats in par­lia­ment, a di­rect win in 41 con­stituen­cies and 7 ad­di­tional pro­por­tional com­pen­satory seats which was 40 per­cent share of the to­tal 120 seats of na­tional As­sem­bly.

The DC did not make it into gov­ern­ment be­cause the All Ba­sotho Con­ven­tion (ABC), which got 138 917 votes, 26 con­stituen­cies and four PR seats, Le­sotho Congress for Democ­racy (LCD) elected by 121 076 got 12 con­stituen­cies and 14 PR seats and Ba­sotho na­tional Party (BNP) which got 23 788 and five PR seats co­a­lesced and met the min­i­mum re­quire­ment to form gov­ern­ment which is 61 seats.

The other po­lit­i­cal par­ties col­lec­tively got 12 366 votes. For the pur­poses of fur­ther anal­y­sis, it would be crit­i­cal to note that con­stituency per­for­mance for the par­ties is ex­tremely im­por­tant.

Though in times past, a con­stituency win would have be the sole de­ter­mi­na­tion of a party’s per­for­mance, the ad­vent of mixed mem­ber pro­por­tional (MMP) sys­tem and its re­fin­ery to abol­ish the sec­ond bal­lot which ba­si­cally dis­torted the model, with the best loser in a con­stituency dearly com­pen­sated.

In fact, the LCD got 14 com­pen­satory seats which sur­passed the 12 con­stituen­cies by two. This is due to the fact that in the con­stituency where it did not win, the LCD did well as both run­ner up and the third po­si­tion holder.

Con­stituen­cies are gen­er­ally highly con­tested. What is ob­serv­able is that only 22 con­stituen­cies out of 80 were won on ma­jor­ity votes, the rest were won on mi­nor­ity vote. This means a very di­verse vot­ing pop­u­la­tion and the di­min­ish­ing sin­gle party dom­i­nance in var­i­ous geo­graphic ar­eas.

The DC re­mained markedly strong in the south­ern and moun­tain­ous ar­eas while in cen­tral Maseru and the north­ern part, it had a hard time.

How­ever, it would seem that some con­stituen­cies will be hard-fought in the low­lands and the ABC, and to some ex­tent BNP and LCD may, put up a good fight in the moun­tains.

As the 2015 elec­tions loom ever closer, the beg­ging ques­tion be­comes who the likely win­ner will be. Given the con­test among the par­ties, the cam­paign pro­gramme and is­sues ad­vanced, it is likely to have vot­ers di­vided on who is re­spon­si­ble for the coali­tion gov­ern­ment’s col­lapse among oth­ers the is­sues.

Who among the coali­tion lead­ers is the most favourite? This may have noth­ing to do with whether the re­sponse of vot­ers is fac­tual or not. The other is­sue is the gen­eral ex­po­si­tion of par­ties in their cam­paigns.

In th­ese elec­tions, the ABC has been ac­tive more than was the case in 2012. Whether such ac­tivism has ac­tu­ally trans­lated into the growth of the party in terms of num­bers of peo­ple who will vote it, may not be clearly as­cer­tained ex­cept to say that its star rally was far bet­ter at­tended than any other party and was, for all in­tends pur­poses, bet­ter than its 2012 show.

The DC has not been as ac­tive as it used to be and its star rally has been lower than 2012. How­ever, this may not have a sin­gle def­i­ni­tion. It may ei­ther mean gen­eral fa­tigue in the party pro­pa­ganda mech­a­nism, a gen­eral de­gen­er­a­tion dis­ease that af­fects par­ties which lose in­cum­bency and con­se­quently op­por­tu­ni­ties to abuse state re­sources for party ac­tivism, a ben­e­fit that this time went to the ABC, LCD and BNP.

The decline which surely draws heav­ily from the re­al­ity that many of the DC big­wigs and cam­paign champs went to the rally on foot for the first time since the re­turn to democ­racy in 1993, could not nec­es­sar­ily mean decline in membership and loy­alty.

It may mean ac­tual decline. Tak­ing the ef­fect of the ex­po­sure of strength in the star ral­lies and th­ese other is­sues in to con­sid­er­a­tion, the ABC and DC would cer­tainly put a very in­ter­est­ing fight in this poll.

The growth of the BNP and the rel­a­tive strength of the Re­formed Congress of Le­sotho, threaten the po­si­tion of the LCD as the king­maker. The LCD star rally did not re­flect the strength it has shown in the var­i­ous ral­lies it held around the coun­try.

The star rally was also lower than the one they held in 2012 which was a state­ment to the LCD’S for­mer leader, Pakalitha Mo­sisili, that the party still ex­ists af­ter his de­par­ture.

While the LCD comes into the 2015 fray sad­dled with an­other split, this time the mag­ni­tude of the wound may not be so pro­found to war­rant the show­piece sim­i­lar to 2012.

This again may not nec­es­sar­ily mean a decline in membership and peo­ple may end up vot­ing for it. While th­ese is­sues are re­al­is­tic and in­deed very sig­nif­i­cant in the con­stituen­cies ma­jor­ity of which were pre­vi­ously won on mi­nor­ity vote, the ex­hi­bi­tion of party strength through ral­lies and the party per­for­mances at the star ral­lies in par­tic­u­lar can only be ig­nored at one’s peril.

Or­di­nar­ily it would be ex­pected that the Bnp’s growth would sug­gest the decline of the ABC but a par­al­lel show of strength may give credit to the BNP lead­er­ship for be­ing able to re­vive the dor­mant party’s loy­al­ists.

The re­sis­tance of the DC while out of gov­ern­ment would or­di­nar­ily be looked as a re­sult of the party be­ing per­ceived as haven by dis­grun­tled LCD mem­bers.

On the ba­sis of this, it would be pos­si­ble to have one of the fol­low­ing three sce­nar­ios. The first be­ing the Shar­ing the Spoils (Sce­nario Bana Ba motho ba arole­lana hlooana ea tsie, mong a bo­laea mong a tšoaela).

This is where the DC gets more seats but needs the LCD to form gov­ern­ment or ABC gets more seats and need the BNP and RCL to form gov­ern­ment. In the event that both al­liances are not able to meet the tar­get, the sec­ond sce­nario is pos­si­ble which is Min­nows be­ing King­mak­ers ( Ha ho tume li me­lala ntšonyane, nketjoane o tumme a se na noka).

This is where both sides would need sup­port of the smaller par­ties to get to gov­ern­ment. In such cir­cum­stances, the smaller par­ties would be in­clined to up the stakes to max­imise the op­por­tu­ni­ties.

The tougher it be­comes to co-opt the smaller par­ties; the third sce­nario would be pos­si­ble which is Burry the Hatch­ets and Make Peace ( Hla­bang Chit­jana Mo­lato o fele o felle ruri). This is where both the DC and ABC may find their al­liance cheaper than any other as long as is­sues be­tween them are re­solved.

How­ever, there could be pos­si­bil­ity that PFD can come back stronger and there­fore more strate­gic than it was in 2012 and dis­tort any of the de­fined sce­nar­ios here.

Though the LCD’S po­si­tion seems to be fixed in the sce­nar­ios, its a pos­si­bil­ity that Mr Mets­ing may be pres­surised from within to re­con­sider his po­si­tion against ABC leader Thomas Tha­bane on the one hand while the pre­mier may be sim­i­larly per­suaded to cut a deal with the for­mer. This should not be ruled out.

Since ex­pec­ta­tions would be high and many peo­ple would be tempted to make own pro­jec­tions and cal­cu­la­tions as the count­ing and an­nounce­ment is made, it would be cru­cial to re­call the seats al­lo­ca­tion for­mula.

It is the to­tal num­ber of votes di­vided by the to­tal num­ber of seats suc­cess­fully con­tested which will pro­vide a quota. A to­tal num­ber of votes for a par­tic­u­lar party are di­vided by the quota to de­ter­mine how many seats it de­serves.

If that num­ber is big­ger than num­ber of con­stituen­cies the party got, then such a dif­fer­ence would be taken from the 40 PR seats.

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