2017 represents the first election after 10 years of rule by Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as President. She has been credited for her championing of women's rights in her time in office and bringing together a fragile peace in the aftermath of Civil War. However, she has been attacked by the CDC and others for being weak on corruption and for dealing with elements that were involved in the Civil War.
From the GIA perspective, we look forward to working with our consultant Bobby, the CDC Australia and the wider CDC Liberia team to help George Weah become the next President of Liberia. We believe that the 2017 election campaign will be one of the toughest in Liberia's post-civil war history. With the end of the Presidency of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf after a decade in office, there is already 20 candidates for the Presidency. This will be George Weah's second tilt for the Presidency after taking the CDC from nothing to the second biggest party in the Liberian Congress after running for President in 2005 and Vice President in 2011 and being elected as a Senator in 2011. With so many parties running, the fact is that this will be a battle between the Weah Congress for Democratic Change (CDC), Leymah Gbowee who is not affiliated to a political party but is a co-winner of the Nobel Peace Prize or the nominated successor of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf which is most likely to be Vice President Joseph Boakai.
We see that election as being a competition between the following competing questions to the core of the election. That is, do voters believe that George Weah is competent enough to become President against the backdrop of who is the best to fight corruption.
Then will come the need for any party in this cycle to master the art of 'down ticket' campaigning. That is, the art of using the headline act (the Presidential campaign) to ensure that the seats are won in order to ensure a working majority. This is something that any observer to western campaigns (Australia, New Zealand, United States, United Kingdom etc) is used to. However, in emerging democracies the art of doing this successfully will determine how elections are won or lost.