Professor Emmanuel Yenshu Vubo, Dean of the Faculty of Social and Management Sciences of the University of Buea.
Prof, according to the Electoral Code, the election of Senators is done by Councillors only; thus they are elected by indirect universal suffrage. What is meant by indirect universal suffrage ?
Indirect universal suffrage is a system of voting whereby a corps of voters who have been vested by universal direct suffrage (as in local elections that designate municipal councillors, parliamentarians) or by other mechanisms such as the system of grand electors in the US proceed to elect on behalf of the people. This is based on the assumption that these super- electors have already been invested with the power that rests with the sovereign people and can therefore act on their behalf. They can therefore in all their wisdom elect other representatives of the people to such coveted and very important offices such as the presidency (South Africa) or Senate (Cameroon, France).
Are councillors obliged to vote ?... What happens in case of unavailability ?
The principle of freedom of expression implies that no one is obliged to vote or that, when one votes, one is obliged to choose from among the contesting candidates. That is why there are abstentions or null votes. However, Section 227(2) of the Electoral Code compels all Councillors to vote when it clearly states that « Members of the electoral college, under pain of loss of their voting right, shall be bound to take part in the polls.» If one desired to vote but is held back for some reason or other, one can give power of attorney to another person to vote. That too is tricky, that is why in elections such as the forth coming Senatorial elections having more than one voting authorisation is not allowed. This is clearly stated in the third paragraph of Section 227; « However, where unavoidably absent, a member of the electoral college may issue a proxy to another member. No member of the electoral college shall have more than one proxy. »
What are the consequences councillors risk should they not participate in the voting process ?
When councillors do not vote, they penalize their own parties. Since the vote is secret, there is no way to identify none voters even if they appeared in the polling station. There is therefore no way to sanction them. Besides loss of their voting rights and other legal sanctions, Councillors will face internal sanctions from their various parties. This is because they may be dissatisfied with candidates who deliberately fail to turn up in the polls and thus contribute to the loss of precious votes for them. Such parties may thus resort to internal disciplinary actions within their organs.