Very low turnout by voters in Tuesday’s (July 31, 2018) senatorial by-elections, particularly in Montserrado County reflects not only fatigue, but clear protest against failed promises by politicians. Liberian electorate had time and again, been fed with campaign promises by power-seeking politicians, who never honestly meant what they said.
The senatorial by-elections in Bong and Montserrado Counties were meant to fill seats made vacant by the victory of President George Manneh Weah and Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor during the runoff presidential election in 2017.
A total of seven senatorial candidates contested in Tuesday’s by-election conducted across Montserrado County, while 12 candidates vied in Bong County, respectively.
But reports gathered throughout the day from various polling places and precincts in Montserrado County revealed widespread low turnouts, leading some polling staff to virtually fall asleep.
In various communities across the county, electorate sang the same choral: “I’m not going to waste my time.” They argue there is no reason coming out to cast their ballots because they have lost faith in politicians, who never fulfill their promises.
Governance and service delivery has remained an age-old problem in Liberia where in most instances, one party in the social contract reached at the ballot box failed to deliver to the people who stand in long queues as early as 6:00 a.m. to cast their votes for candidates of their choice with the hope that after emerging victorious, a successful candidate would look back to the constituency.
The governing Coalition for Democratic Change fielded two candidates, who are incumbent lawmakers in the senatorial by-elections. Coalition Standard Bearer President George Manneh Weah was senator for Montserrado up to 2017 when he won the presidency, and the CDC desperately wants to maintain the seat, while Vice President Jewel Taylor, previously senator for Bong, wants to deliver the county to the CDC as a show of strength.
But if the turnouts from both counties, particularly in Montserrado is anything to judge by, then the ruling CDC should do some soul searching because this is not the CDCian strength that we have known over the years.
Perhaps most importantly, the situation points to the need for leaders and those aspiring for leadership to threat electorate as key partners rather than taking them for a ride, as has been over the years.
The July 31st senatorial by-elections would therefore, go down in Liberian political history as the day voters sign a blank check in protest for deceits, lies, insensitivity, neglect and bad governance.