Posted by / Tuesday 30 August 2022 / No comments

What are the factors that hinder free and fair elections

Recent elections in Africa have been marred by violence, deaths, allegations of vote-rigging and manipulation of election results. In the 2020 general elections in Ghana, eight people lost their lives in several parts of the country. In Kenya, in the 2022 presidential elections, one presiding officer went missing and was later found death. 

According to Fatos Nano, “Organizing free and fair election is more important than the results itself.” Fatos Nano is an Albanian socialist politician who was a former Prime Minister of Albania. It is easy to accept election results when all the stakeholders involved if the electoral field is levelled for every player. 

If the electoral environment is not levelled enough for all participants, it hinders free and fair elections. There are several factors which may hinder free and fair elections in any country.

The absence of a free and independent Electoral Commission
One of the conditions that can hinder free and fair election is the absence of a free and independent Electoral Commission. At every stage of the electoral process, the Electoral Commission must be left alone in the conduct of its constitutionally mandated duties, without any interference from any political player(s). 

The absence of a strong and independent judiciary
Another factor that can hinder free and fair elections is the absence of an independent judiciary. A strong and independent judiciary is necessary because it is able to settle any electoral dispute that may arise and be brought before them. It is their duty to settle all electoral disputes impartially so that all parties to the dispute is satisfied. 

The absence of an independent press
To ensure a free and fair election, all media houses must be free and independent in order to be able to hold people accountable for their actions. The absence of this free and independent press can hinder the success of the elections and prevent the press from carrying out their duties as the fourth arm of government.

Absence of free access to the media
Where the media is free and independent, every political party must be given equal access to the media. No political party should be prevented from getting access to the media to disseminate its political manifesto or programmes. The presence of free media access will ensure that every stakeholder is able to put its case before the electorates. The absence of a free and fair media can hinder free and fair elections.

The absence of independent international observers during the election
The presence of independent international observers during a general election gives some credibility to the elections. In addition to every other factor that engenders a free and fair election, the presence of international observers adds some icing to the cake. The absence of these international election observers, therefore, can hinder free and fair elections. It is the duty of the ruling government to invite international observers into the country to observe the processes before, during and after the election.

The absence of Universal Adult Suffrage
Universal adult suffrage, also known variously as, universal franchise or general suffrage, enjoins that every qualified citizen of the state is allowed to vote. They should not be discriminated against based on their religion, race, ethnic background, language, level of education, sex, or political persuasion. Where people are discriminated against, it has the tendency of hindering free and fair elections.

1. What are the conditions necessary for free and fair elections?
2. What factors can hinder free and fair election?

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