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Assuming Victory by Crowd Followership:  A Misplaced Optimism

Monrovia, Liberia: Within the confines of an ideal democratic environment, every political party pursues contestation in a free and fair election with the ultimate goal to gain power to run the government. In a presidential election, every presidential candidate on a ballot is a possible president. This also holds true for legislative elections. Experiences over time have drawn this authorship to the near conclusion that electoral politics is a game of probability and not of morality. It is therefore important that one who seeks to venture into the game of politics builds a strong internal defense system that withstands deception. Deception as used here, is a pejorative term that is not, however, strange to the political dealings in Liberia.

In a functional democracy, electorates align with political parties based on ideological identification or shift to a party based on ideological realignment. In a simplified version, I am poised to now asking this rhetorical question; “What are the “opinions or beliefs” that drive you to a political party?”

Following through with Liberian politics over the years, I have observably come to the conclusion that there are five categories of Liberian Electorates.

The first category is those I call the ideological electorates.  These are relatively permanent and informed electorates who follow a party and by extension a candidate, based on a clearly articulated policy prescription regarding governance. These are critical mass of enlightened electorates who are concerned about the party’s teachings or system of ideas and ideals. Unfortunately, this category makes up a small number of the overall electorates who make critical national decisions at the polls. On the conviction of their ideology, they stick to their party void of enthusiasm deficit.

The second category is the group I called the promised-enthused electorates. These are electorates who are swayed about by mere promises made by a candidate. Sadly, to note, this category of electorates lacks the sophistication to track the promises made by a politician. Further, this category is latent in thoughts regarding some basic questions such as- “How will the promise be fulfilled?” “When will the promise be fulfilled?” “Where exactly will the promise be carried out?”, assuming that it is a project.  Their best reliance is that chance will work in their favor for the fulfilment of promises.

Third, I have the wind-blown or crowd-driven electorates. This category perhaps fits into the characteristics of ‘bandwagonism’. Their argument, flaw as it may be, is, “But everyone is following this or that party or candidate, so why not me?” Another valid assumption about this category is that members look out for what sociologists call “awareness of kind”. Once all their peers are seen or following the crowd, they are magnetized automatically to a party by that. This category, with shifting interests, makes up a critical chunk of electorates who are the game changers.

The fourth category of electorates is the group I call the “Belly-driven electorates”. Their primary question usually is “What is there for me if I should follow…?” As long as there exists a smell of ‘political philanthropism’, they are the bait receivers who turn out to be the greatest of all deceivers.

Fifth and final, is the category I call the “Financially torn-apart electorates”. This category settles primarily for financial or pecuniary gain. They are chartered displayers who can be trucked by all parties anytime, anywhere and used or misused in fulfilment of cash reward. They care less about security or reputational risks. The mystery about this category of electorates is that no one understands exactly where their political loyalty lies. Interestingly, in the end, they rejoice for any victory because who wins or loses is none of their headaches.

With the articulation of these categories of electorates, it is the submission of this paper that optimism is misplaced when politicians assume that victory in Liberian politics is emphatically based on affluence or crowd followership. The following critical elections have been historicized to point out how candidates impressively won crowd but unbelievably lost elections.

In the October 11, 2005 General and Presidential Elections, Counselor Harry Varney Gboto-Nambi Sherman ran as a standard bearer for a four-party Coalition for the Transformation of Liberia(COTOL). The coalition brought together the Liberian Action Party(LAP), Liberia Unification Party(LUP), People’s Democratic Party of Liberia(PDPL) and the grand old True Whig Party(TWP). Despite his huge crowd following based on monetary influence, Sherman lost. He was placed 5th out of 22 candidates, winning 7.8% of final votes ( assessed January 5, 2023).

In a highly contested Senatorial run-off election in Montserrado held 24 November 2009, crowd showmanship and financial inducement didn’t work out the magic in favor of Mr. Clemenceau Blayon Urey of the Unity Party against Madam Geraldine Doe Sheriff of the Congress for Democratic Change. In that race, Madam Sheriff obtained 58,383 votes, amounting to 56.0% while Mr. Urey accumulated 45,864 votes or 44.0%(   assessed January 6, 2023).

In the ‘Special Senatorial Election’ held in Montserrado County on December 20, 2014, Mr. Robert Alvin Sirleaf, an independent candidate (Son of President Sirleaf) with all the financial resources at his command, which earned him huge following, was defeated by Mr. George Manneh Weah of the Congress for Democratic Change. Mr. Weah accrued 99,226 votes which amounted to 78% while Mr. Sirleaf obtained 13,692 votes or 10.8% (, assessed January 5, 2023)

In the 2017 General and Presidential Elections, a new entrant into the presidential race, Dr. Joseph Mill Jones, was hailed by huge following due to the introduction of his loan scheme targeted at small and medium scale businesses. Mr. Jones’ admirer across the nation conferred on him a fast paced nickname, “Poverty Doctor”. Given the mammoth crowd’s reception wherever he went, Dr. Jones decided to convert his perceived popularity into presidential victory. Credit to the New Dawn Newspaper for this descriptive narration of Dr. Jones’ political entry and its outcome. “The former Executive Governor left the Central Bank of Liberia straight into politics, hitting the ground running, declaring his intent to vie for the presidency and subsequently organizing the Movement for Economic Empowerment, which contested the October 10, 2017 polls but lost, receiving 12,854 votes or 0.8 percent of the total vote cast”, quoting the   final results announced by the National Elections Commission(NEC).

Another class case of wonder associated with electoral politics was captured in history during the December 8, 2020 Montserrado Senatorial contestation with spotlight on Abraham Darius Dillon of the Collaborating Political Parties(CPP) and District #5 Representative Thomas Pangar Fallah of the  Coalition for Democratic Change(CDC). During the preceding rallies to the election, Hon Fallah pulled huge following everywhere his team went. It was reported that Hon. Fallah dispensed so much physical cash into every community that he earned for himself the title “ATM Machine”.  According to official results released by NEC(, CPP Candidate Dillon won with 202,880 votes which amounted to 61.3% while his archrival, CDC Fallah lost the race having accumulated 120,405 votes which amounted to 35.76%.

Experiences have brought us cautiously to the conclusion that “political philanthropists” who are mesmerized by crowd showmanship end up on the losing side of history. The summary of the examples quoted herein is a manifestation that the chapters of Liberian political history is never replete of wonders.  And for the new entrants on the Liberian political scene, we welcome you with this reflective history. As we gradually move towards the general and presidential elections in October this year (2023), we warn that assumption of victory based on crowd following is illusive and a clear demonstration of misplaced optimism. It is the submission of this article that for a victory to be assured rather than assumed, a party must work overtime and develop a people-centric message of intentional change that will have a trickled-down effect on the lives of the citizens at the urban and primordial level.

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