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AUF POLICY ON AFRICAN ELECTORAL REFORM
Electoral reforms in the African Union will get closer to an ideal of an indegenous Democracy by Consensus through the use of Proportional Representation in election by the general population. Moreover, it is necessary for some parties to form alliances or amalgamate without regard to political borders, in order to better serve the citizens of Africa.
The AUF is working to ensure that in the future the African Union will have either a Party List System, or a Single Transferable Vote - also called the Preferential Popular Vote - formular (or a combination of the two) in order to ensure fairness at the polls. In the final analysis, only this kind of electoral democracy can work in the African Union. We must strive for the purest forms of Proportional Representation...as the basic minimum on which to build all other political structures that we need to perfect our political self-governance.
The AUF supports the adoption of the PR system used during the South African general election of April 1994. The SA election was held under a form of national list PR, with half the National Assembly (200) constituted from nine provincial lists and the other half from a single national list. In effect, the country used one nationwide constituency (of 400 members) for the conversion of votes into seats and no threshold for representation was imposed. The Droop quota (votes/ (seats+1)) was used to allocate seats, and surplus seats were awarded by an adaptation of the largest remainder method.
The African Union should use the same kind of PR structure as SA, but modify the presidential authority, so as to secure the primacy of the African Parliament and avoid creating a presidential system. The President of the AU parliament should be elected by secret ballot by the parliament (using the Single Tranferable Voting system), should have no powers independent of the Parliament, and should remain president only with the support of the majority regardless of whether or not s/he has done anything wrong. In otherwords it should take a simple vote of no-confidence (not necessitating an impeachment trial) to remove the President of the AU parliament & Head of State of the African Union before his/her term is over.
WHY PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATION WORKS
The manufacturing of consent by use of methods that do not in fact represent political nuance, amounts to crude majorities and minorities devoid of ideological coherence, and the lack of accountability to the voters.
Proportional Representation systems will be the best solution for African electoral reform, especially because like other communities around the world, African communities are prone to faulting along ethnic, religious and cultural lines. Proportional Representation can mediate some of the corrosive effects that rise when political elites, who base their claim to power on ethnic, regional or religious rather than national constituencies, use divisive politics to secure control of the states resources.
Under the multi-party system (which is still better by far than a single party system) it is possible for the party with the most votes to still lose the election (in effect that means getting less seats in the parliament), depending on how the population distribution relates to the constituency borders.
Moreover, winning the most votes may translate into an over-statement of the seats a party should be entitled to. If for instance the Red Party won 51% in every constituency, and the Blue Party won 49% in every constituency...under a Majoritarian system (also known as Winner-take-all), the party that won 51% of voters gets 100% of representation in the legislature. In a fair system the Red Party should have 51% of the seats and the Blue Party should have 49% of the seats.
The above example is extreme...usually the legislative seats allocated are not so disproportionate. Instances may result in a party with 40% of the vote getting 20% of the legislative seats. This is unfair and unacceptable. Africans should have a fair system of seat allocation that reflects to the best degree possible, the proportion of voters to seats in the Parliament.
Proportional Representation impacts on majority parties in such a way as to require continuous dialogue, compromise and nuance policy reform between constituent entities within the party and the state. This is called Consensus Building.
In Africa, a political majority is always a collection of minorities, whether it is individual voters in a two-party system or groups of them in multi-party systems. Proportional Representation would allow majorities to form in a more fluid manner, both in election campaigns and in legislatures...and thus allow for the expression of more dynamic debate on alternatives, instead of treating disagreements as if they were rebellion or attacks.
The complicated concerns of the electorate are obscured in a winner-take-all voting system, which puts voters into two or three camps and leaves much progressive thought on the margins of political influence. The system is flawed and is incapable of reflecting the majority of the concerns of the electorate. In otherwords, majoritarian systems are in fact crude, and the true majority is a sophisticated collection of minorities without a voice or representation (except in the opinion sections of the daily newspapers).
In an ideal PR system even a party that wins 5 or 10 percent of the votes or legislative seats has a great impact on grassroots organizing and on the conduct of the government, and on the other bigger political parties. Electorally, this party could check any shifts in policy within the bigger parties. It would give the segments that make up a majority party, such as unions, cultural minorities, environmentalists, etc., credible influence within the party.
RESERVED PARLIAMENTARY SEATS
It is important that when the LEGISLATIVE Pan African Parliament becomes functional, it should reserve seats for territorially dispersed ethnic minorities whose communities are unintegrated into the common political process in Africa. For example the reservations could include Africans in Diaspora, the Montagnard communities in Central Africa, Nomadic groups, pygmie communities, isolated Amazighen communities, refugees and IDPS, and African groups whose lands are occupied by colonial powers, such as the Canaries, the Saint Helenas, the Comoros and Chagos Islanders.
Click: List of Political Parties in the African Union