Wednesday, 28 August 2013
How 2015 will be different from 2011
This article hopes to showcase likely differences between the upcoming 2015 general elections and those of 2011.
Anyone thinking that 2015 will be a repeat of 2011 is very far from reality. There have been so many changes in the political terrain, that 2015 will look very little like 2011. For example the emergence of the APC was not possible in 2011 but has become a reality now. The popularity of the president was at an all-time high in 2011 as many people were encouraged to vote Dr Jonathan and not necessarily his party. As of April 2013, he has lost favour with a lot of Nigerians with his approval ratings being at an all time low of 42% (conducted by NOI Polls). He however does still attract some fondness from some Nigerians.
The security crisis in some northern states is a significant issue that raises doubt in the possibility of conducting free, fair and credible elections in these states. A presidential election where some states are not included is not acceptable since every state must be given the right to contribute to determining who leads the nation. This is especially more critical when one considers the fact that the opposition controls a number of these states where the insurgency is at its peak. The internal crises rocking the PDP constitute another major issue, which will ensure that 2015 presidential election is very different from that of 2011.
The 2015 elections will be highly competitive.
As long as the APC merges successfully it will prove a formidable force for the PDP in 2015. From the hypothetical scenarios conducted in this document, it is clear that the race for president will be an extremely close race. The era of landslide victories may have come to an end and this may be the beginning of a truly two-party state.
The election may produce a runoff.
Looking at the cases discussed, there is a huge potential for a runoff during the presidential election come 2015. The APC has a huge opportunity to win the simple majority of votes because it is very strong in states and regions that have the highest population. However it may find it difficult to obtain upto 25% of the votes in 24 states. If in the event the APC gets the simple majority but cannot muster the required percentage in each state, then a runoff will be called. This is because even if the PDP gets over one-quarter of the total votes cast in each of 30 states, its candidate cannot be declared winner unless the party also has the simple majority. If a run-off occurs, the PDP will likely lose the election, because the opposition will be strengthened by people who are not wholeheartedly in the PDP who may then seize the opportunity to undermine the PDP. The PDP must attempt to win the election the first time round if it is to ensure victory.
Sound political strategy will be required for victory.
Many Nigerian politicians have been involved in rigging, bribery and participation in electoral malpractices, just to win elections. One lesson from 2011, is that Nigerians are getting more involved in the democratic process. Nigerians believe more now, than at an any time in the Nation’s past that their votes really do count and have an impact in the outcome of elections. The ‘Protect Your Vote’ campaign has really taken off and can be observed in elections conducted all over the country. While electoral malpractices may still occur, it definitely can longer be on the brazen scale that it used to be. For this reason, politicians cannot rely on bribing the electorate (because of poverty this may still appeal in some areas) or making empty promises. Political parties must come up with sound political strategies, which are well thought out and followed up. Understanding of the electorate and political terrain is a must and being able to communicate effectively with the voters will all but guarantee electoral success. Winning by violence, coercion and intimidation is fast coming to an end.
The political map may still change significantly.
The political map of 2011 shows a seemingly North-South divide. However, this document has looked at this critically and it is clear that this may not actually be the case. From the analyses discussed in previous chapters it is clear that the electoral map will change significantly in 2015. The map has already begun to change. With the coming of the APC and alignment of political parties and interests, the polity is likely to continue to be affected until the elections are held.
2015 will not be a repeat of 2011.
Anyone thinking that 2015 will be a repeat of 2011 is very far from reality. There have been so many changes in the political terrain, that 2015 will look very little like 2011. For example the emergence of the APC was not possible in 2011 but has become a reality now. The popularity of the president was at an all-time high in 2011 but as of 2013, he has lost favour with a lot of Nigerians. The security crisis in some northern states is a significant issue that raises doubt in the possibility of conducting free, fair and credible elections in these states. A presidential election where some states are not included is not acceptable since every state must be given the right to contribute to determining who leads the nation. This is especially more critical when one considers the fact that the opposition controls a number of these states where the insurgency is at its peak. The internal crises rocking the PDP constitute another major issue, which will ensure that 2015 presidential election is very different from that of 2011.
Political alliances will play a huge role in election outcomes.
Because of the merger of some opposition political parties into the All Progressives Congress, the political terrain has been transformed. For any party to succeed in the 2015 presidential elections, it has to align with other parties (even if this is only at the presidential level). This does not exclude the PDP. The PDP must make efforts to align with parties like the Labour Party, APGA etc. if it is to challenge the APC significantly. The APC must also seek to create more alliances (apart from the current 3 parties it already has within its fold). The party with the greatest clout and national representation will have the upper hand come 2015.
Choice of candidate may be the deciding factor for the opposition.
The PDP will most likely select President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan to be its flag bearer in 2015. The opposition has a much more difficult assignment. A lot of interests will be at stake and the APC has a lot of heavyweights who may want to assert themselves. The presidential candidate selected by the APC will make or break the party’s chances at the 2015 polls. Some of the key-voting blocs in the country have been discussed in this document. The selection of a candidate must take into consideration these voting blocks and how each of them will respond to the candidate selected. This is a tricky assignment and must be considered critically without personal interest. If candidate selection is done objectively, the APC may be able to produce a formidable, credible, charismatic, proven and popular candidate who will give the PDP a run for its money. The party must also ensure that the process which produces the party’s candidate is credible and fair, otherwise it may run the risk of losing disgruntled members who may cross carpet to the PDP at the last minute.
Level of Performance will impact the results.
In 2011 many voters voted for President Jonathan out of goodwill. In 2015, his track record will be brought to the fore. Unless the President is able to make some meaningful strides in development he will find it an uphill task to convince the electorate of his candidacy in 2015. This is critical because the president still has 2 years to make meaningful impact in the country. Performance is also critical for the APC but in a slightly different way. The ability of the 11 APC-controlled states to make lasting impact on their citizens will be used as a litmus test for their presidential candidate’s ability to impact the whole country. If APC cannot develop the states they control effectively, they will find it hard to convince the majority of Nigerians that they can do so at the national level. This is very evident in the South-West of the country, where the well reported and accepted developmental strides of the Lagos State Governor; Babatunde Raji Fashola was used to campaign for the ACN in other south-western states. The belief is that if the party did it in Lagos, it can do it in the South-West. It is not surprising that the ACN today controls all but one south-western state.