Election Watch

Promoting democracy in Namibia

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Elections Explained

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Electoral Tribunals
The Electoral Act, in Sections 162 to 167, sets up electoral tribunals to adjudicate and decide on matters that may arise before polling day such as the inclusion or non-inclusion of names on the provisional voters register, the conduct of registered political parties and their office-bearers, the conduct of electoral officials, and any alleged electoral irregularities. The presiding officer at an electoral tribunal must give a written or oral decision and reasons for the decision no later than five days from the date of conclusion of the hearing. Electoral tribunal hearings must conclude all pre-election matters before polling day. In any case requiring urgent relief, the tribunal must give a decision no later than 48 hours after the conclusion of the hearing. Any appeal to the Electoral Court must also be concluded before polling day.
An electoral tribunal may not make an order for costs against a party unless the party has acted in a frivolous or vexatious manner.

Electoral Court
The Electoral Act, in Sections 168 to 172, sets up the Electoral Court to hear and determine appeals against decisions of electoral tribunals, to review decisions of electoral tribunals, to decide on any matter concerning any contravention of the Electoral Act. The Court can also hear and determine appeals against decisions of the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN), as well as review ECN decision relating to any electoral issues. It can also decide on any matter referred to it by the Commission regarding the interpretation of electoral law. An applicant must, at the time of the presentation of an application before the Electoral Court, furnish security for the payment of all costs, charges and expenses that may become payable by the applicant before the Electoral Court
The Electoral Court at a hearing must give a written or oral decision and reasons for the decision at the conclusion of the hearing, or as soon as possible after the conclusion of the hearing, having due regard for the complexity of the matter. The Electoral Court must conclusively determine all post-election matters seven days before the swearing in of the office-bearer concerned. In urgent cases, the Court must give a decision no later than 72 hours from the conclusion of the hearing. The Electoral Court may not make an order for costs against a party unless the party has acted in a frivolous or vexatious manner.
In any election of the President any challenge relating to the return or outcome of the election, including any request to review electoral materials in respect of the election for the purposes of bringing a challenge, the challenge or request is directed to and adjudicated by the Supreme Court of Namibia .The Supreme Court must give a decision no later than 14 days after the conclusion of the hearing.

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Article 1 of the Constitution establishes Namibia a “sovereign, secular, democratic and unitary State founded upon the principles of democracy, and the rule of law and justice for all.”
Article 17, part of the Constitution’s Bill of Rights, states that all citizens shall have the right to take part in peaceful political activity intended to influence the composition and policies of government. All citizens also have the right to form and join political parties. Every citizen over 18 can vote in elections, while citizens over 21 can be elected to public office.
Article 21 entrenches the rights to freedom of expression, thought, and association – all fundamental to free political activity.
The essential details of Namibia’s electoral systems are also set out in the Constitution.
Article 28 deals with the election of the President. A President can only be elected with more than 50 percent of the votes in a national presidential election. This is called a majoritarian system.
Article 49 states that members of the National Assembly are to be elected via a party list system in accordance with principles of proportional representation.
Article 106 states that to be elected as a Regional Councillor, a candidate has to receive the most votes in a constituency-based election. This is called a First-Past-The-Post or FPTP system.

© 2017 Election Watch

Election Watch is a project of the Institute for Public Policy Research in Windhoek, Namibia. Election Watch is funded by the European Union and the Canadian Fund for Local Initiatives.