By Allieu Sesay
Thanks Dr. Bangura. It was a fair piece, but with a weak premise and faulty conclusion. I have done some analysis to show why.
During the process of de-amalgamation, two new districts were created in the APC strongholds - Karene and Falaba. This means extra constituencies were created for the 2018 elections compared to 2012. In 2012, there were 112 constituencies, and 132 constituencies in 2018, representing an addition of 20 constituencies.
Take the North (now broken up into North and North-West) for example. Karene, which is a biproduct of Port Loko and Bombali districts has 5 new constituencies. And these are the APC strongholds, meaning that the 5 seats would be most likely won by the APC. And that was exactly what happened in the 2018 parliamentary election.
So the APC has initially benefited 5 seats as a results of the de-amalgamation. Port Loko maintained the 10 constituencies in both 2012 and 2018 elections. However, Bombali’s constituencies were reduced from 9 in 2012 to 8 in 2018. To account of this, we subtract 1 seat from Karene which gives the net gain due to de-amalgamation of 4 seats in the case of Port Loko, Bombali and Karene.
Koinadugu (with 6 seats in 2012) was broken up into Koinadugu (4 seats) and Falaba (4 seats) in 2018. This gives another gain of 2 seats in favour of the APC as the original Koinadugu is considered an APC district as revealed in 2012.
Tonkolili’s constituencies were increased from 8 in 2012 to 10 in 2018, making 2 extra seats available for the APC to win in 2018, given that Tonkolili is an APC stronghold. Kambia, with 6 seats, was unaffected by the de-amalgamation.
Thus, the net gain in constituencies in the Northern region (i.e. North + North-West) is 8 seats (=4+2+2) and are all located in the APC strongholds.
The Western Area (Urban and Rural) is also considered a stronghold of the APC. In the Western Area Urban, the de-amalgamation resulted in the creation of 3 additional constituencies from 17 in 2012 to 20 in 2018. The Western Area Urban constituencies rose from 4 in 2012 to 8 in 2018. Thus, the gain in constituencies in 2018 for Western Area is 7 (=3+4).
From the above, the APC had in its strongholds (Western Area + ‘Global’ North) an additional 15 seats (= 4+2+2+7) as a result of the amalgamation.
Now to the SLPP strongholds. Kono is considered a swing state since no party has ever consistently scored at least 70% of the votes in that district. So we keep it constant.
The number of constituencies in Bo (11), Kenema (11), and Moyamba (6) were unaffected by the de-amalgamation. In Kailahun, the number of constituencies rose from 8 in 2012 to 10 in 2018, representing 2 additional seats. Bonthe and Pujehun each had an additional constituency during the period under review; these give a total of 2. Therefore, the total number of seats in the SLPP strongholds (South and East) is 4 (=2+2).
If we are to net off these seats, we get 11 (=15 – 4) in favour of the APC strongholds. With the voting patterns that have obtained in 2007, 2012, and 2018, we can see clearly that the de-amalgamation absolutely and unequivocally benefited APC and accounted for the current majority in Parliament. Please see Appendix 1 below for necessary statistics.
If at least 70% of voters in an old constituency voted APC in 2012, and this constituency maintains the same voting pattern, and then broken up into 2 constituencies in say 2018, the APC has definitely gotten an extra seat because of the creation of new a constituency.
Your argument would have been tenable if the total number of new constituencies created as a result of the de-amalgamation were identical for both parties in their strongholds. In that case, no party would have had an extra advantage. However, if one party has more constituencies in its strongholds relative to others, that party will definitely have an advantage if voting patterns do not change. And the reasoning or logic in this case is simple to understand.
For example, in the newly created Karene, all 5 seats were won by APC; and in the newly created Falaba, 3 seats were also won by APC. And in the reconstituted Western Area, 4 of the newly created seats went to the APC (i.e. from 21 seats in 2012 to 25 in 2018). This makes a total of 12 seats of the 15 newly added constituencies in the APC strongholds of Western Area and ‘global’ North. So the extra constituencies largely explain the distributional pattern of seats in the current Parliament.
To conclude, your analysis on population dispersion and concentration was spot on. But it was merely advocating for PR than debunking the widely held view of extra constituencies being one and a major factor explaining the current representation in the Sierra Leone Parliament.
Source: Wikipedia, NEC and Author's Calculation