By: Engrácia Marques*
The results of the 2022 election tell us that these were the most disputed elections in Angola, especially if we look at the percentages that the two main opposing parties achieved and consequently the number of candidates that both managed to elect to the deputy to the National Assembly.
However, the abstention rate was more than 10% higher than the previous election, but we cannot ignore that of the 55% of abstentions, there are elderly citizens who died and who were not excluded from the Senior Citizens File. And if the dead don’t vote, they can’t abstain. In this sense, the percentage should be reduced.
Another thing to keep in mind is that of those citizens who changed their residence and did not update their data during the unofficial registration period, and due to possible distance, were unable to vote. There are also those whose Identity Cards have expired and, due to the delay in issuing them, they were prevented from voting, and the CNE belatedly decided that they could vote.
Notwithstanding these reasons, the question I pose is, why do voters who do not meet the above conditions decide not to vote? This question that I often hear in my experience in facilitating issues on democracy and elections in different parts of the country is: “vote for what?”
Now, let’s see, paragraph 1 of article 52 of the CRA on participation in public life, says that every citizen has the right to participate in political life and in the management of public affairs directly or through freely elected representatives, and the way direct from
do so, pursuant to our constitution; it is by universal suffrage, that is, by the vote in which this expressive number of citizens abstained from participating.
Among several reasons that we want to point out to justify, I focus on the question that electoral elections should serve to choose citizens whose governance programs
should respond to the satisfaction of collective needs, decisions and actions that reflect on the quality of life of the population, so if the voter from elections to elections does not see their needs met, nor the primary conditions for their subsistence improved, why would they continue to vote?
The electoral process must be understood as a cycle that comprises a pre-, during and post-electoral period, where the good or bad decisions taken by the main actors in the process can mobilize or demotivate the voter, and in our case, these decisions tend to demobilize the electorate.
If, on the one hand, living conditions do not improve, on the other hand, there was the approval of a strongly contested electoral package, the protests around the suitability of the President of the CNE and the Judge presiding over the TC, the hiring of Indra, the uneven coverage of the state media in favor of a certain competing party, which generated great distrust in the voter, and which indeed contributed to the high number of abstentions.
One of the requirements of the Democratic State of Law is inclusive citizenship, which presupposes that no one can be left behind, no one should be or for some reason feel excluded.
to participate in a strong vehicle for the realization of democracy, therefore, the number of abstentions should serve as an indicator for us to rethink the way in which we have been conducting this process and how it is reflected in the life of each Angolan and Angolan woman.
As we have the habit of saying that elections are the party of democracy, all Angolans should be and feel invited to participate in this party.
*Human Rights Advisor