Cynical watchers of the 2007 Presidential and Parliamentary elections have proclaimed the rise of the 9th party after it became clear that a significant 25% of registered voters did not turn up to cast their ballots all round the country.
The 8th party which has sarcastically been referred to as the Void Party (Vee-Party) is represented by 7% of the total votes. It was judged ironic because the void votes (144,898) totaled more than the votes that all the bottom four political parties scored (64,174). Thereafter there are apparently 80,724 more ignorant voters who participated in the elections than voted for all the four political parties put together.
Presently however the emergence of the 9th party is being realized with 2,619,565 people registered to vote yet only 1,984,106 voted.
This shows that some 635,459 people abstained or rather did not vote at all. They have thus been classified as belonging to the Apathetic Voters Party (Aye-Vee-Party).
Some observers believe that voters have become disillusioned with party politics, and are skeptical about the ability of politicians to deliver on their promises.
There are others who say they do not have any faith in any of the Presidential candidates, and therefore have registered their protest by not voting.
Yet still there are those who registered and because of fear of violence in the elections traveled out of the country. A lot of these are seen coming back to face the real elections, having been encouraged by the reports of a violence free elections during the first ballot.
The apathetic votes however represent some 24% of the eligible registered voters and their missed votes (635,459) are far more than all the other parties scored (319,673) [including the PMDC] with the exception of the two leading – APC and SLPP parties.
According to the voting figures, the most apathetic place in the country was Kambia district with a voter turnout of 65.9% and where some 45,900 people did not come out to cast their ballots.
This was followed by Koinadugu with a voter turnout percentage of 66.9% with 39,566 registered voters not voting.
The highest voter turnout of 79.3% was observed in the Bo district where only 49,845 of the registered voters did not vote.
Bo is believed to be one of the most politically vibrant areas of the country.
As expected the second highest voter turnout of 79.1% was observed in the Western Area Urban region, where 492,300 registered to vote and 103,459 stayed home.
Again, with the city situated in this region, it houses the highest number of literate voters and is generally regarded as the most politically conscious.
In all of the other districts there are very significant numbers of “no vote” making upwards of 20% of the number of registered voters.
It is clear that these registered voters have seen no reason why they should vote.
Perhaps for them the APC and SLPP do not hold the solution to progress in the country, and that is why they have decided to stay away.
Generally this is regarded as voter apathy hence the reference to the Apathetic Voter party as the silent 9th party which to all intent and purposes would have secured the third position in the recent elections.
Some political analysts have toyed with the idea of the “No Vote’ being given a prominent place in elections as it would represent a decisive rejection of what is on offer, albeit torpedoing the claim by any politician that “it is what the people voted for” or “its democratic” because, then the people would have been given the rare opportunity to register the strongest possible protest against what is on offer during the elections.
Consequently, no more would the politicians be smugly congratulating themselves that a large number of people liked them because an even larger number clearly did not
Generally speaking however, a 75.8% voter turnout is regarded as appreciable and can in no way be sufficient justification for a claim to voter apathy. Equally so in the same vein the number of apparent apathetic or no votes is sufficient cause for concern.