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DETERMINATION OF ELECTORAL PROCESSES AND VOTER BEHAVIOR IN CAMEROON

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DETERMINATION OF ELECTORAL PROCESSES AND VOTER BEHAVIOR IN CAMEROON

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

Background of the study

Cameroon, a heterogeneous country located in Central Africa, has seen substantial political changes since achieving independence from colonial domination. The country's political environment is significantly influenced by its election procedures and voter behaviour, which are shaped by the diverse population consisting of many ethnic groups, languages, and socio-economic backgrounds. The Cameroon People's Democratic Movement (CPDM) has exerted hegemony over Cameroon's political system since the early 1980s, with President Paul Biya at the helm. Although multi-party politics were introduced in the early 1990s, the CPDM has managed to retain its dominant position in power, prompting concerns over the impartiality and openness of election procedures (Cameroon, 2017). The electoral system in Cameroon has undergone modifications throughout time, but there are still persistent difficulties related to the integrity of elections, voter registration, and the availability of information. Domestic and foreign observers have closely examined important factors such as the autonomy of the electoral administration body, the openness of voter registration, and the manner in which elections are conducted. Gaining insight into voter behaviour is crucial for understanding the intricacies of elections in Cameroon. Various factors, including ethnicity, socio-economic position, geographical differences, and party affiliations, have an impact on voter choices (Chrda, 2018). Moreover, voter behaviour is influenced by several elements such as views of election fairness, candidate profiles, campaign techniques, and socio-cultural influences. The levels of electoral participation in Cameroon exhibit regional and election-specific variations. Voter participation is influenced by several factors, including voter apathy, disillusionment with the political system, logistical difficulties, and security considerations. Furthermore, it is essential to focus on the involvement and representation of young people, women, and marginalised communities in the election process to guarantee inclusive participation. Electoral procedures in Cameroon have been tainted by occurrences of violence, intimidation, and electoral malpractice. During election seasons, tensions can intensify, amplifying pre-existing political grievances and socio-economic imbalances. Gaining insight into the factors that cause electoral violence is essential for fostering peaceful and democratic elections within the nation.  Cameroon's voting procedures and the actions of voters also get global interest and examination (Gwaibi, 2016). Observers from regional entities such as the African Union (AU), the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), and international organisations like the United Nations (UN) are responsible for watching elections and promoting democratic values.  Although there is already a body of literature on Cameroon's election processes, there is still a need for extensive empirical research that explores voter behaviour, electoral dynamics, and their consequences for democratic government in more detail. This research aims to fill this void by using a comprehensive methodology to examine election procedures and voter behaviour in Cameroon (Gwaibi, 2018). An analysis of election procedures and voter conduct in Cameroon is essential for comprehending the obstacles and possibilities within the nation's democratic structure. To enhance electoral integrity, promote democratic participation, and build political stability in Cameroon, policymakers and stakeholders may identify the crucial elements that influence elections and voter choices.  Therefore, the researcher sought to determine electoral processes and voter behavior in Cameroon.

Statement of the problem

The election environment in Cameroon is characterised by intricate interconnections between voting procedures and many socio-political elements that impact voter conduct (Kombi, 2015). Although elections play a crucial role in developing democratic government, there is still a lack of comprehensive information of the complexities of electoral processes and the fundamental factors that influence voter behaviour in Cameroon.  Cameroon has been subject to scrutiny due to the lack of openness and impartiality in its election procedures. The lack of transparency in voter registration, ballot counting, and result announcement procedures gives rise to apprehensions over the legitimacy of elections. Lack of transparency poses a potential threat to the erosion of public confidence in the electoral system, therefore compromising the legitimacy of elected officials (Shin, 2017). The diverse ethnic composition, geographical disparities, socio-economic inequities, and historical legacies of Cameroon have a substantial impact on voter behaviour within the socio-political framework of the country. Gaining insight into the influence of these variables on voting patterns, candidate preferences, and turnout rates is crucial for developing successful election tactics and fostering inclusive democratic engagement. Cameroon has seen persistent occurrences of electoral violence and intimidation during elections (Verjee & Mutah, 2018). Political violence, including acts such as harassment, coercion, and even deaths, often dissuades voters from freely exercising their right to vote. An essential aspect of promoting safe and favourable conditions for democratic elections is the examination of the frequency and causes of electoral violence. The efficiency and neutrality of electoral institutions, together with the sufficiency of legislative frameworks regulating elections, have a significant impact on the execution and result of electoral procedures. Evaluating the capabilities, limitations, and compliance with electoral rules and regulations might provide insights into the institutional obstacles to conducting free and fair elections in Cameroon (Wenzell, 2019). Inadequate voter education campaigns and civic engagement attempts exacerbate voter apathy, disinformation, and disillusionment with the election process. Enhancing voter education initiatives and promoting civic engagement are crucial for providing individuals with the requisite information and abilities to make well-informed election decisions and ensure elected representatives are held responsible. Given these obstacles, it is crucial to undertake a thorough examination of election procedures and voter conduct in Cameroon. This will enable the identification of critical concerns, the formulation of changes based on empirical data, and the promotion of a democratic system that is more inclusive and participatory. These research efforts are essential for advocating election integrity, protecting democratic ideals, and maintaining political stability and social harmony in Cameroon..

1.3 Objective of the study

The broad objective of the study is to determine electoral processes and voter behavior in Cameroon. The specific objectives is as follows

To analyze the effectiveness of electoral processes in Cameroon in ensuring fair and transparent elections.

To examine the factors influencing voter behavior in Cameroon.

To assess the impact of electoral processes on political participation and democratic governance in Cameroon.

1.4 Research questions

The following questions have been prepared to further guide the study

What is the effectiveness of electoral processes in Cameroon in ensuring fair and transparent elections?

What are  the factors influencing voter behavior in Cameroon?

What is the impact of electoral processes on political participation and democratic governance in Cameroon?

1.5 Significance of the study

Policy makers: Insights gained from research on democratic governance and electoral processes can inform policymakers and stakeholders about necessary reforms to strengthen democratic institutions, improve electoral integrity, and enhance governance effectiveness in Cameroon.

Academia: the findings of the study will be significance to the academic community as it will contribute to the existing literature.

1.6 Scope of the study

The study focuses on electoral processes and voter behavior in Cameroon. Empirically, the study will analyze the effectiveness of electoral processes in Cameroon in ensuring fair and transparent elections, examine the factors influencing voter behavior in Cameroon and assess the impact of electoral processes on political participation and democratic governance in Cameroon.

1.7 Limitations of the study

Like in every human endeavour, the researchers encountered slight constraints while carrying out the study. Insufficient funds tend to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature, or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire, and interview), which is why the researcher resorted to a moderate choice of sample size. More so, the researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. As a result, the amount of time spent on research will be reduced.

1.8 Definition of terms

Electoral process: means voter registration, candidate registration, electoral campaign, mass media accessibility, voting, vote counting

Voter behavior: refers to how people decide how to vote. 


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