Political coalitions are political maneuvers that have been around for years to unseat the incumbent. It has been the peoples’ panacea to change their government. In most democracies, a political party must score over 50% of votes cast as a mandate for the presidency and in instances where no political party competing in the election hit the 50% magic number, it opens the doors for the opposition parties to come together to put up a united front to fight the incumbent. This strategy was executed successfully in our neighboring country Senegal, in Mali, Nigeria to force their over-stayed incumbent out of office. The Gambian situation is different in the sense that the results of our presidential election is decided by a simple majority which implies that opposition coalition would have to be aligned prior to the election to put up a united front to oust the incumbent especially the one we have who abuses the national coffers to pay out brides, intimidate and suppress citizen voters, multiple illegal registrations and voting in addition to numerous electoral frauds.

The aforementioned coupled with all kinds of human right abuses, financial fraud and corruption, a breakdown in our social fabrics and structures with a man on top who believes that he owns the Gambia with all its content, he proclaim laws and adjudicate, collect tax revenue, grants and loans to the Gambia and put them to his name and spend as he wishes mostly impugning Gambians, promote his sexual desires, his lust for real estate and building a Jammeh conglomerate. Gambia’s situation and the urgent need to change the direction of our country makes opposition coalition a unanimous no brainer. Previous unity endeavors have not been very successful and this time around too talks are on the way to put up a unity front which seemingly epitomizes a dragging dysfunctional, ego centric, scheming and agenda bases formality get-togethers until the recently proposed convention which the GDC did not sign on and the Independent party coming out with a late counter. What I want to do today is to apply the simple SWOT analysis to evaluate the main opposition parties, some benchmarks and best practices and leave it to the Gambians and opposition leaders.

PROBLEM

How can Gambian opposition parties come together to put up a united front against the tyrant incumbent?

SITUATIONAL ANALYSIS USING SWOT

For simplicity purposes we will limit the analysis to the following opposition parties; UDP, NRP, PDOIS, GDC, INDEPENDENT.

STRENGHTS

UDP                                                                                                    

  • Name ID, documented support based
  • Has the most energize base,
  • Consistent largest opposition with national structure; election data
  • Resource mobilization both nationally and in the diaspora
  • Strongest support across all regions and demographics
  • Political stamina and experience

 NRP

  • Name ID
  • Contested election since 1996 with data to back up voter support
  • Candidate was once an elected National Assembly member

PDOIS

  • Name ID
  • Contested elections since the first republic
  • Political stamina and advocacy
  • Candidate was once an elected National Assembly member

GDC

  • New to presidential politics
  • National Assembly member
  • Limited Name ID

INDEPENDENT

  • New to presidential politics
  • First female candidate
  • Limited Name ID

WEAKNESSSES

UDP

  • Numerous failed efforts to defeat jammeh
  • Perceived negative impression about the party (just grapevine, no scientific data)

NRP

  • Small and declining support as seen in election results
  • Support in select patches across the country
  • Limited resources and mobilization on national scale

PDOIS

  • Though the oldest party in this sample, support is weak and trending downwards
  • Support in select patches across the country
  • Complex political ideology for average Gambian voter

GDC

  • No data to authenticate support
  • Limited national Name ID,
  • Former APRC parliamentarian who has supported and signed all authoritarian decree-like legislations
  • Disgruntled APRC member who was disgraced by Jammeh himself by expulsion from his party
  • None or limited nationwide campaign structure

INDEPENDENT

  • No data to authenticate support
  • Limited name id, some of which is negative because of her involvement in the FGM campaign
  • None or limited nationwide campaign structure and mobilization

OPPORTUNITIES

UDP        

  • Grow the base
  • Grass root campaign
  • Communicate the agenda
  • Capitalize on the unlawful killings, arrests and imprisonment of the UDP executive and membership
  • State of the economy and hardship in the country

NRP

  • Grow the base
  • Grass root campaign
  • Communicate the agenda,
  • State of the economy and hardship in the country
  • National campaign structure

PDOIS

  • Grow the base
  • Grass root campaign
  • Communicate the agenda
  • State of the economy and hardship in the country
  • Effective use FOROYAA media to inform Gambians

GDC

  • Grass root campaign
  • Communicate the agenda
  • State of the economy and hardship in the country

INDEPENDENT

  • Grass root campaign
  • Communicate the agenda
  • State of the economy and hardship in the country
  • First female candidate
  • Role model for young girls, gender equality

                                                        THREATS

UDP

  • Negative propaganda about the UDP, mostly based personal feelings and agendas
  • Member attrition to other parties
  • Voter fraud and intimidation

NRP

  • Small and centralized support base, not far reaching
  • Member attrition to other parties
  • Voter fraud and intimidation

PDOIS

  • Political idea too complicated for average Gambians; socialism
  • Small and centralized support base, not far reaching
  • Member attrition to other parties
  • Voter fraud and intimidation

GDC

  • New party but no new ideas or accomplishments to better the lives of Gambians
  • Support is not substantiated
  • Member attrition to other parties
  • Voter fraud and intimidation

INDEPENDENT

  • Support is minimal and not measured
  • Candidacy mainly based on gender and political neutrality with a sense of entitlement
  • No none political experience
  • Negative image with rural traditional women from the FGM campaign

I finally want to bring the pieces home together by looking at the devastating the socio-politico and economic paralysis in the Gambia and the extreme hunger of the Gambian people for change and better government. There is a total breakdown in our social structures, economic activities at standstill with tense and inhumane political environ. The country and her people are starving for change and politicians should set aside personal feelings and agendas, benchmark success political coalitions across the globe and add the Gambian opposition coalition to the best of history and not a failed experiment motivated by egos and not grounded in facts and precedents. Successful coalitions take in account the party with the most voter support, political apparatus and structure, energized base and what demands are on the table from the rest. The 3 most rooted political oppositions are the UDP, PDOIS and NRP and data indicates that the UDP is the most powerful opposition. Elections are number games and data from previous election results show that the UDP scored higher that the PDOIS and NRP combined consistently. The new opposition GDC is not tested and measured and all indications are pointing to the rumor that the party and the candidate are Jammeh sponsored and its credibility can be highly questionable. As a previous legislator there is no evidence that he was on the side of the Gambian people by sponsoring or co-sponsoring any legislations that enhanced good governance or economic prosperity but has his vote on all draconian laws passed during his tenure. The Independent candidate equally is not tested even though it’s historic. When it comes to coalition bargaining, the candidate has limited strength, being the first female presidential candidate and running on an independent ticket are weak arguments to head the opposition alliance. Nobody can doubt her public service record, her fight for women causes some of which has earned her negative publicity.

Jammeh has to be defeated decisively because of all his criminal tactics to suppress and manipulate votes and putting up a candidate from a small and inconsequential opposition party will have grave impact on turn out and the current energy for change in the country. The history and data are out there that has made previous coalitions around the world successful so let us not try to reinvent the wheel. Let us put our weight and resources behind the party that has the numbers, the structure, household name id and a energize base to uproot tyranny and bad governance in our homeland.

Thank you for the space.

Written By Tata, Atlanta

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