In a good month’s time, the results of the 2019 elections should be out. It is our hope that by then Namibia is still peaceful, orderly, forward looking and we will not be at each other’s throats.
There is no doubt that the political consciousness of the population, and the demographic reality of voters, has changed. At independence, the elections were very much focused on the liberation struggle where some wanted a new dispensation whilst others wanted to continue with those that sustained apartheid and colonialism. A good thirty years after independence the dynamics have changed completely.
When one looks at those that voted in 1990 and those that are voting in 2019, there is a stark contrast between the two. Those that voted in 1990 were generally a generation that has seen and first hand experienced colonialism and apartheid whilst the majority that are going, or expected, to vote now, clearly will have no vivid experience of it. This, of course, then comes with its own dynamics.
Looking at past results, we can clearly see a trend where the ruling party has been gaining popularity on a consistent basis. Whilst in the 1989 elections, Swapo won around 57 percent of the votes, this figure steadily went up to around 73 percent in 1994, up to 76 percent in 1999 and 2004, until we saw a slight decline in 2009 to around 74 percent. The all-time high achieved for Swapo was in the 2014 elections where the party won around 80 per cent of the votes.
The Popular Democratic Movement (PDM), also used to be known as the DTA, has predominantly been the opposition party to receive the highest votes until the formation of new parties. In 1989, the DTA, now rebranded as PDM, received around 29 percent of the votes; whilst in 1994 the votes went down to around 21 percent. Thereafter the party was hovering around 5, 3 and 4.8 percent of the votes respectively. This shows a declining trend that is associated to various issues that I will address below.
An interesting trend in the past elections is that newly formed parties always tended to do well until they declined a while later. The perfect example is the COD and RDP. COD, garnered around 10 percent of the votes in 1999, as well as around 7 percent in 2004, until it hit rock bottom with only around 1 percent of the votes in 2009 as well around 0.5 percent in 2014. The RDP which, upon their establishment, achieved around 11 percent in the 2009 elections until they saw a significant decline five years later only garnering 3.5 percent of the votes. The trend, as shown, is clear and also partly explains the declining results of PDM since 1999. This year’s elections will also see a new party contesting the elections and we should not be very surprised if they do better than expected as well.
Since the President of Namibia is voted by all voters the results have been interesting as well. In all elections since 1994, the winning presidential candidate has always garnered more votes than their party, clearly showing that some tend to vote for their favoured party but not necessarily its presidential candidate. The founding, as well as the second president of Namibia, used to receive around 76 percent of the presidential votes, clearly showing that even those that did not vote Swapo could have voted for a SWAPO presidential candidate. This was nowhere as evident as the 2014 elections where the current president, received an unprecedented 87 per cent of the votes, whilst his party only received 80 percent.
This is an interesting trend and in my view, there were various fascinating factors that led to this reality.
For the current elections, Namibia will still have various parties taking part in the elections this year but now there is a new phenomenon of an ‘independent candidate’ , whose nomination did not come from the party that he apparently belongs to but by individuals that supported him. This makes this election quite interesting considering the different views and opinions that dominant the various spaces of ideas.
Whatever happens, my wish for after the elections is that we remain united, orderly and continue to live in peace and harmony with each for the sake of our country. May the best candidate win.
*Iipumbu Sakaria is a Namibian citizen and wrote this opinion in his personal capacity
2019-11-04 07:37:56 | 11 months ago