What happens if an election result is disputed?

When an election takes place, it is absolutely vital that its result is accepted by those who have taken part in the election. This ensures that politics remains peaceful and fair by making sure that voters are heard and they are governed by the party they vote for.

But if an election takes place and some think that it has not been free and fair worries will arise over the electoral system. This can mean that a government may be in office but without the support of voters.  This is the case in Mozambique, whose recent general election results have been disputed by the opposition party.

MOZAMBIQUE

Mozambique held a general election on 15 October 2019 in which the current President won another five-year term and secured 73% of the Presidential vote. His FRELIMO party also won just under three quarters of the parliamentary seats in a landslide win.

However, the results of this election have not been accepted by the main opposition party, RENAMO. They have claimed that the election involved intimidation, violence and vote rigging by the ruling party, which denies these claims. RENAMO’s vote share went sharply down in the election as they won 21% of the vote in the presidential contest.  Although Mozambique’s 17-member national elections commission approved the results by 9 votes to 8, many independent observers have described the election as being deeply flawed.

In addition to this, RENAMO’s leader Ossufo Momade has claimed that the alleged cheating in the election broke key aspects of a peace deal it signed with the ruling party in August. The deal called for free and fair elections. If RENAMO’s claims are true then this part of the deal will be broken. This deal ended decades of conflict between the two main parties, who have in the past fought a civil war from 1975 to 1991 and from 2013 to 2016.

The opposition’s claims about the election have brought the future of the deal into question. This is worrying as it was widely thought that a free and fair election could promote a lasting peace. However, this can only happen if the election result is accepted and the questions over the government’s conduct raised by RENAMO could put this in danger.

CONCLUSION

In a democracy, it is very important that election results are accepted by all who take part in the election. However, when it is suspected that the election has not been free and fair then worrying questions are brought up of whether the government has the support of voters. Once this is the case, the government’s alleged lack of voter support can be damaging to the government and can often only be resolved by having the election again.

MARTIN CUDDEN

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