Has the DC com­mit­ted po­lit­i­cal sui­cide?

Lesotho Times - - Leader -

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.

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