Donald Trump has secured enough voters to be candidate for the Republican Party. It was very clear that the Republican portiburo were against his choice and were scheming means of stopping him. Some even came out in the open in an attempt to influence public opinion and sway votes away from him so that if he does not secure enough votes for an outright win at the convention, the super delegates should influence the outcome. This was clear to Trump himself and on several occasions he had hinted of running as an independent should the party block him.
However, democracy is about the will of the people and the will has prevailed. The party has failed to stop Donald Trump.
In every election, the process of identifying candidates is crucial and greatly determines the support or discontent the followers render to it. In every nomination process in Malawi misunderstandings and claims of irregularities are not absent. Quite often candidates will come out to claim that the primary elections were rigged, they were not informed in good time so that they could organize their voters, and women will just surrender due to intimidation. The result has been the increase in number of independent candidates. For the 2014 parliamentary elections there were 1,293 of which 417 were independents. While the law allows for independent candidates, of concern in this column are the situations whereby candidates decide to go solo because of the frustration and impediment within the party. Often these candidates will identify themselves as “party independent candidates” and they will even use the party regalia during their campaign and also campaign for its president. A total of 52 independents sailed through to parliament but a good percentage of them have since moved to the benches of their parties. The highest political party, the Democratic progressive Party got 50 MPs.
There are lessons from the American situation regarding party nomination process as follows:
Credible process: Nomination process should be handled in a credible manner. No one within the party should have powers to stop anyone from contesting or influence the results.
Equal level: all candidates should be treated equally with no advantage shown to one and denied to the other. There have been cases whereby party top brass will sit down and reverse results just because they don’t like the candidate who has won.
Access to voters and campaigning: often aspirants have complained of being blocked from meeting or campaigning to the voters. Aspirants should be given freedom to come out and express their aspirations to contest as president, MP or councilor for the party. And those who do so should not be treated with disdain more especially if the portiburo has its own choice.
Well articulated calendar: Many parties do not have well scheduled calendars. As we stand today everyone knows that the next elections will be in May 2019 but no party has a calendar that an aspirant can refer to if they would want to vie for the party ticket. If one is seen as posturing themselves as a candidate they are quickly attacked “it is not yet time for campaign” but no time is mentioned when the campaign time will begin. Elections are a cycle and a desire to contest can rise at anytime. Such a calendar can help in managing such cravings.
No impositions: Although not backed by statistics, imposed candidates find it tough to sail through and chances are high of losing to “party independent candidates”. Party leadership should allow the will of the people to prevail. Those who lose in credible primary elections have higher chances of supporting the candidature of the winner and not divide votes by contesting as independents.
Primary elections: These are important because they give people an opportunity to make a choice. In some situations parties have attempted to block primary elections just to support a party favourite candidate or an incumbent.