Report on possible 2020 electoral model for Somalia

The Heritage Institute for Policy Studies has published today a report on possible 2020 electoral model for Somalia. First, after describing electoral systems in general, the report narrates the history of elections in Somalia going back to the era of trusteeship in 1950 – 1960. Secondly the report outlines four electoral options for 2020 – three of which are closed list and one first past the post system.

1. ‘The Baydhabo Proposal’ calls for closed list, ‘competitive, party-based election’ to be conducted in the cities controlled by the government of federal member states but restricts each seat to the clan that occupied in the past. Among many, the key issue with this option is how the 4.5 formula will play out at the sub-clan level. The proposal sets a threshold of seven percent of total votes for a political party to be represented.

2. ‘The Kismayo Proposal’, also based on closed list proportional representation, advocates for ‘member-state based political districts’ in which electorates in those regions elect representatives. Under this proposal, each region would maintain the number of seats they got in the last election. According to the report, this proposal falls short on how to address the issue of ‘Somaliland, Mogadishu, and internally displaced people’.

3. ‘The Modified Enhanced Legitimacy Proposal’ argues for an incremental approach which widens the electoral base; ‘from 51 to 501’ electors. Similar to the Baydhabo Proposal, this proposal would restrict each seat to the clan that held it before.

4. ‘The Clan Constituency Proposal’, unlike the other options, calls for first past the post system. Electorates for a sub-clan seat can be in any where in the country as long as they are deemed members of the sub-clan by the respective traditional elders. Although this option would lead to an increase in voter participation, it’s feasibility and political appetite is questionable.

The report doesn’t make conclusive recommendations on which option is better for the country, however, it calls for the adoption of a model that is feasible, affordable, acceptable, inclusive and one that increases voter participation and at the same time can move the country towards the universal one-person one-vote elections.