EditorialTHEWILL EDITORIAL: Election Lessons From South Africa, UK

THEWILL EDITORIAL: Election Lessons From South Africa, UK

July 08, (THEWILL) – In a space of one month, two very eye-opening elections have taken place in two countries which share some historical links with Nigeria. That is South Africa and the United Kingdom.

On May 29, 2024 general elections were held in South Africa to elect a new National Assembly as well as the provincial legislature in each of the country’s nine provinces.

The seventh since the end of apartheid in 1994, the South African election, which returned incumbent President Cyril Ramaphosa, had all the trappings of democracy; voter power and democrats who have imbibed the tenets of compromise, tolerance negotiation and consensus in their inner intentions.

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The almost century-old majoritarian African National Congress, ANC, for the first time failed to sweep the poll and had to strike an alliance with the Democratic Alliance, DA, to assure the return of the incumbent government.

The election was conducted electronically and results were declared within 24 hours. There was no court intervention of any kind to pronounce the victor. Nigeria was a frontline state in the fight against apartheid in terms of funding and human capital assistance.

For the UK, Nigeria’s colonial master where voting history is over 200 years-old, the main opposition Labour Party swept to power in a landslide victory over its main rival, the Conservative Party that has been in power for 12 unbroken years in the poll conducted on July 4, 2024.

The country’s House of Commons has 650 members of parliament. Each of their “seats” represents a constituency, or district. Labour won 412 seats, while the Conservatives got a miserly 121 and centrist Liberal Democrats took 71. Other parties also participated, even though it is only during election they are heard. They are Reform UK, a successor to the Brexit Party, the left-wing Green Party.

With that majority, LP is empowered to pass laws with little or no opposition from other parties.

Unlike in South Africa, the polls were manually counted in the UK. Manual counting of votes by count teams. After the counting, the candidates are called unto the stage and the results announced immediately.

What is more, immediately he was declared winner and went through the ceremonial meeting with King Charles III, LP’s Sir Keir Starmer appointed 10 cabinet ministers.

Indeed, PM Starmer said something in his victory speech that should resonate with every Nigerian. He said, “Changing a country isn’t like flicking a switch. It is hard work, patient work, determined work. And we will have to get moving immediately.”

For a country in which democratic practices have taken firm root in the past two centuries, Starmer’s affirmation aptly demonstrates that mouthing catch phrases and making high sounding words like often happens with our elected leaders here is not only a show of deceit but also a show of bad leadership.

South Africa and UK’s polls present models that Nigeria’s political and election managers can learn from. On the one hand, it shows that age is a number. On the other, it illustrates the wisdom that systems and organisation are rule based and so are run by men and women who understand and make the effort commit to the due process and transparency.

What more, both countries’ polls show that government is exclusive and elitist, while governance is inclusive and people-oriented and what make the difference is the intention of public office seekers: Service.

Once this lesson in human management is learnt and understood, issues in conflict and crisis management, which is an everyday occurrence in modern society, are better handled, enabling tolerance, compromise, consensus, social and economic growth.

 

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