Has the DC committed political suicide?
THE overriding reason for forming political parties to exist is to vie for power. In a democracy accession to power has a direct relation to winning elections on your own or in alliance with likeminded political parties.
Alliances and/or unions amongst political parties are based on the understanding that alone one is unlikely to succeed. In essence, alliances are a way of minimising weakness.
It is probably as a result of their perceived electoral weaknesses; that the Democratic Congress (DC) and the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD), conceived and ultimately agreed on an alliance going to the 2017 elections. Both parties have been haemorrhaging support for some time, but the 2015 elections must have jolted them to paper over their differences in order to survive annihilation in the 2017 elections.
The challenge however must have been whether they should unite ahead of the elections, or tactically put their faith in an alliance ahead of the elections. They chose the latter.
The formula for such an election, it now looks clear, was one where the smaller partner benefits more inordinately at the expense of the bigger one. This arrangement will have far-reaching consequences for the DC.
The two parties agreed that the DC would field candidates in 54 constituencies, while the LCD would field candidates in 25 constituencies.
The Popular Front for Democracy (PFD) would then be supported by both the DC and LCD in one constituency. Without proper analysis, this could be thought to be a tactical masterstroke, but it will be shown to be at best naive and at worst suicidal for the DC in the 2017 elections. This is more so in a one-vote-two ballot system that is used in Lesotho.
It must be clear that the issues facing the DC in the 2017 elections are largely the following: a) The split from the DC by a significant number of its members who formed the Alliance of Democrats (AD; b) The split from the LCD by an inordinately large number of its members who formed the Movement for Economic Change (MEC); and c) The fast growth of the All Basotho Convention (ABC).
All these challenges have put the DC in a predicament which it attempted to ameliorate by forming an alliance.
That alliance however seems to be not only an alliance of the weak, but also one which fast-tracks the demise of the DC. The only beneficiary of the alliance in a small way and for a short period is the LCD.
Strengths of DC/LCD alliance Projecting election results is a complicated exercise. This is why even the most sophisticated polling systems sometimes fail to accurately predict the outcome.
The win by Donald Trump in the recent United States presidential elections shows how difficult a task predicting is.
All conventional wisdom had predicted that he would lose the elections. In Lesotho, we do not have even a rudimentary system of polling yet.
This means that we have to take an educated assessment based on a combination of observable enthusiasm and also contributions in public forums in order to make judgements.
More often than not, these have tended to ness may not have solved the problem. It could have, on the contrary, started the total dismantling of the parties after the elections as a result of the bickering on the strategy.
For the LCD, it could extend its life for a few more years; since it could benefit from the short-term swallowing of the DC.
For both, the question is whether the postelection period will see them continuing as a united opposition or whether each will go its way after their project of attempting to stay in power fails.
In the 2015 elections, the DC had lost ground to the ABC in terms of constituencies. Out of the 80 constituencies, ABC had 40; DC had 37; LCD had two and the Basotho National Party (BNP) had one.
It was in the proportional allocation part where the DC was able to move ahead of the ABC by one seat overall as a result of the 3 000 votes difference between the two.
It is thus understandable that the two leading parties in the coalition sought to get together in order to counter their certain defeat in the 2017 elections.
But without going into the decline of the two parties, let us consider whether their alliance strengthened the DC. My concern is with the DC and not the LCD because it is obvious that the latter is terminally in decline.
Using the 25 constituencies which will be contested by the LCD as an example, it becomes clear that the alliance does not help the DC at all but could jerk the LCD up a seat or two if all the DC supporters remain loyal to their party leader’s directive that they vote for the LCD.