By Yusef Taylor, @FlexDan_YT
The 2023 Mayoral and Chairperson Elections were expected to feature a lower voter turnout compared to the recently concluded Councillors Elections as predicted by observers who mainly pointed to voter fatigue. However, that was not the case as almost half of all registered voters turned out to vote compared to just over a third who voted in the Council Elections.
This time the spoils were shared down the Urban and Rural regions with the United Democratic Party (UDP) claiming all three of the regions in the Urban Areas while the incumbent’s National People’s Party (NPP) claimed all four regions in the Rural areas except Mansakonko which went to the UDP.
In 2018 the UDP had won seven Council seats losing only Janjanbureh to the Gambia Democratic Congress (GDC) but couldn’t win a seat this year. Janjanbureh has now been taken over by President Adama Barrow’s NPP which was formed after the President fell out with UDP Leader Ousainou Darboe in late 2018, after the Council and Mayor Elections.
Voter turnout for Banjul was very high with almost 72% of voters taking to the polls. In contrast, Banjul only had a 47% turnout in 2018. The lowest voter turnout was in Janjanbureh which saw 35% of registered voters cast their marbles. Compared to 2018, only 30% of registered voters took to the polls in Janjanbureh which meant that voter turnout increased by 5%.
The National Voter Turnout stood at 29% for the entire country in 2018 while this year it stands at 48%, representing a 19% increase in voter turnout. To keep increasing the voter turnout, voters have called for combined elections for Councillors, Mayors and Chairpersons. However, the Independent Electoral Commission has highlighted that the increased number of candidates and the logistics of marble drums should change to paper ballots. It’s left to be seen if the change will take effect in the near future.
The data used in this publication are from the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC).
CePRaSS Election Poll 87% Accurate
Looks like the biggest winners from the elections are the Center for Policy, Research and Strategic Studies who managed to predict seven out of the eight winners accurately just a week before the elections. This translates to an 87.5% accuracy in their prediction. The one area council which they couldn’t predict accurately was Brikama Area Council which showed conflicting results.
According to the Survey findings out of the decided voters in Brikama, 21% favoured Seedy Ceesay of NPP while only 19% favoured Yankuba Darboe of UDP. However, in the second poll which featured respondents’ view of the candidate “likely to win”, UDP’s Yanks Darboe led with 23% while Seedy Ceesay was a close follow up with 22% of respondents thinking he would win.
CePRaSS Poll Highlights National Priorities
Besides predicting election results the CePRaSS Poll identifies local government issues such as respondents’ views on candidates withdrawing from elections due to financial inducement of other parties. The survey which polled responses from some 14,191 households found that 92% of respondents strongly believe or believe that the practice of inducement leading to candidates’ withdrawal is bad for the country.
With regard to the timing of the Commission of Inquiry, the majority of respondents (55%) believe that the timing is either extremely inappropriate or inappropriate. However, 58% of respondents believe that the purpose of the Commission of Inquiry on Local Governments is for transparency and accountability while 41% believe it was set up as a witch hunt. Another 31% of respondents believe that the Commission was enacted to combat corruption.
On the controversial topic of voter buying, respondents were asked if they believe voter buying is taking place. A larger share (46%) of respondents believe it is taking place while 41% don’t believe it is taking place with only 13% of respondents having no idea about the issue.
According to a statement published by CePRaSS, their poll identified some of the key issues influencing the electorate’s decisions such as “road construction, food availability, waste collection, and community markets”. This they believe allows Candidates to better shape their campaign to provide solutions to the public’s needs.
NPP and UDP Share the Spoils
The Mayoral and Chairperson Elections mainly came down to the UDP and NPP. With both boasting about their victory it’s difficult to see who came out on top in these elections. Although both parties won four seats each with NPP conquering the Rural Regions while UDP maintained a stronghold in the Urban Areas it can be seen that the UDP won over 15,000 more votes than the NPP.
However, neither of the two parties could win 50% of the votes which highlights that both Parties still need to win more undecided voters to claim an absolute Majority. With NPP winning 42% of the votes cast, while UDP won 46% of the votes cast the race for absolute majority is still very tight.
The biggest victory for NPP came in Basse where Mahmadou Ceesay claimed 69% of all votes cast in Basse making him the biggest winner in the elections. Saihou Jawara of Kuntaur was the second and only other NPP-winning candidate to win 54% of the votes cast.
Looking at UDP Candidates who won over 50% of the votes cast, shows Landing B Sanneh at the top who claimed 55% of votes cast in Mansakonko. Only two more UDP Candidates managed to win over 50% of the votes cast and these are Rohey Malick Lowe (54%) of Banjul and Talib A. Bensouda (54%) of KMC.
The other parties which contested in the elections but didn’t win any seats are PPP (2,023), GDC (2,614), PDOIS (3,796) and GFA (1,277). Altogether these four parties managed to win a total of 9,660 votes meanwhile some 9 Independent Candidates won a total of 44,974 votes which is over 33,000 more than the four parties put together.