Lesotho took an innovative step forward in 2001, when the introduction of the MMP electoral system became a central part of the political and consensual solutions to the upheaval following the 1998 elections. MMP combines proportional representation on a national scale with single-member constituencies and the solution was seen by many as a promising step forward. The system was incorporated in Lesotho’s Constitution in 2001 and was used for the first time in the 2002 elections, where it clearly delivered on its promises. In 2007, however, the picture was very different, primarily because the IEC had accepted the participation in the election of political parties which had formed informal alliances aimed at circumventing the 2001 constitutional amendment. The main problem was that the memorandum of understanding of one of alliances was accepted by the IEC, despite the fact that the intention was clearly to circumvent the Constitution. To the consternation of the other parties, the arrangement gave the alliance an additional 20 seats. The fact that the alliance did not directly violate the electoral law and was accepted by the IEC has resulted in an extremely complicated political and legal impasse. The paper sketches the background of the current situation, explains why it has developed, and suggests a way forward.
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Categories: Journal of African Elections