Outlook of political parties

Jun 18, 2021, 1:03 PM | Article By: D.M. Badjie, Political Scientist/Analyst

It has been widely circulated that there are about twenty political parties and aspirants for the forthcoming Presidential Elections. The political atmosphere is therefore fully loaded for the race to the State House. It is an unprecedented development in the politics of the country.

This, perhaps, has been motivated by the emergence of a coalition government in the aftermath of the 2016 elections in which power-sharing became a phenomenon in Gambian politics. However, with the history of the poor performances of small parties in the past elections, it could be said that having so many unknown, small, less consequential and very thin political outfits will not leave any significant marks in the totality of the elections.

Forming a party is a democratic right but political realism is a must-know element if one is to avoid waking up to the harsh reality of the political arena. There could be some alliances, not in numbers of supporters they bring, but in terms of goodwill in the name of the party leader. The race is basically between NPP, UDP, APRC, GDC, and to some extent, GFA and CA. Let us now view the outlook of these parties as they position their agendas for public consumption.

A youthful party like Citizens’ Alliance (CA) could be spoilers in making a significant swing away from the major contenders. The youth votes must not be underrated in the elections. The UDP has been a culturally entrenched party in the political arena. The party seemingly tends to have the numbers in terms of support which could be of advantage in a simple majority win under the current constitution. However, it cannot be ruled out that the UDP could encounter strong challenges in the event of a united coalition force in the elections.

The NPP, like many other parties, is a new outfit in the political arena. Many have said that it was a presidential creation under the pretext of PEOPLE’S DEMAND. The party does not seem to have sound structures on the ground and has no capacity for political mobilization. It depends on financial resources and the advantages of incumbency. The party has a tendency to over-concentrate on the UDP which is not a good political strategy. In a convoluted political environment, it is prudent for the NPP to forge alliances with other parties. A presidency that was backed by seven parties in the 2016 elections is quite different from the NPP going it alone in the 2021 elections. From the look of things the NPP energy and efforts in politics seems to be focused on upcountry. Electorally speaking, upcountry cannot produce a president. The voting population is in the Kombos and KMC. As a ruling party, it must be mentioned that credit goes to the government for ensuring democratic governance.

The APRC from all indications is still a force to be reckoned with but they have to deal with Jammeh’s leadership role. The party must make that INEVITABLE DECISION no matter how bitter it may be. Time is running against the party. The GDC seems to be actively engaging the electorates on its agenda. The GDC leadership has the most effective political articulation which is an important component of political mobilization. Going by the party’s gains in the 2016 elections, if the numbers increase significantly in terms of support and in a united alliance with other parties then a breakthrough in 2021 elections will be certain. The party has accomplished a lot in bringing development to communities across the country. The GFA leadership is the most experienced in governance and to a large degree in politics.  However, the party hailed from a split party (PPP) and could affect the party’s rating and acceptance by the people. An alliance with GFA will be feasible because of the formidable character of its leadership.

Based on the outlook of these parties, predictions as to which of them will win the 2021 elections may be comparatively more accurate after a clear picture of the voter registration exercise. And, also, when the campaign begins and turnouts are assessed, December 4th will be a critical moment in the contest for power. On that day, the pretenders will be separated from the contenders.