Africa Insiders: Botswana Election Watch briefing
Botswana votes in general elections on 23 October. Here’s some key background information and reading.
The following is from Election Watch, a segment of the Africa Insiders Newsletter. Election Watch follows every election and vote in Africa. It gives key background and reading in the run-up to elections and follows the results and outcomes in the weeks after.
- Voters will elect 57 of the National Assembly’s 63 seats on October 23 for a five year term.
- The President and the Attorney General are elected by the National Assembly.
- President Mokgweetsi Masisi of the ruling Botswana Democratic Party was elected by the National Assembly in 2018 and his term will run until 2023.
- The remaining four seats will be filled by a vote by the incoming National Assembly. Both the President and newly elected members of the National Assembly may nominate candidates. The winning candidate only needs a plurality of votes, meaning that the strongest faction in the National Assembly usually can count on four additional seats.
- That means that to have a majority in parliament, a party needs only 27 seats, if it is also providing the president at the time of a parliamentary election.
- The 57 seats filled by a direct vote are allocated to an equal number of constituencies, where candidates win based on a first-past-the-post system.
- Since independence in 1966, Botswana has been ruled by the Botswana Democratic Party, but elections have been seen as generally free and fair.
- But the BDP may face defeat for the first time this year: a dramatic internal split saw former President Ian Khama, who remains influential in some key constituencies, defect from the party. Khama is now campaigning for a new party, the Botswana Patriotic Front and has also explicitly endorsed the major opposition coalition Umbrella for Democratic Change, asking his supporters to vote for the UDC in constituencies where the BPF does not field candidates.
- Khama himself can not be elected President for another term, but he is clearly positioning himself as king maker, having endorsed opposition leader Duma Boko. The high level of coordination between opposition parties may circumvent the BDP’s traditional advantage due to the first-past-the-post voting system.
- The constitution of Botswana
- Website of the electoral commission
- A good briefing by the Institute for Security Studies
- Khama’s hand still rocks Botswana (Mail & Guardian)
- Botswana’s election will go down to the wire (Daily Maverick)
- A Botswana for the Batswana: Politicians’ last-ditch promises to voters (City Press)
- Botswana’s ex-president hits out at successor ahead of election (FT)
- Why Botswana’s election could be decided by elephants and diamonds (BBC)
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