Liberian general election, 1975
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General elections were held in Liberia on 7 October 1975, alongside a simultaneous referendum on presidential term limits. In the presidential election, incumbent William R. Tolbert, Jr. of the True Whig Party (who had taken office after the death of William Tubman in 1971) was the only candidate, and was re-elected unopposed. In the legislative elections True Whig Party candidates won all 71 seats in the House of Representatives and all 18 seats in the Senate unopposed. Voter turnout was around 80%.
The elections were the first after the eligible age of voters in elections was reduced to 18. It was a combined elections for choosing the President, Representatives of the House and the Senate. Independent observers claim that the elections in 1975 along with that of the earlier elections were rigged by the ruling True Whig Party to assert their claim on Single party rule.
In the United States, there was a movement to resettle free-born blacks and freed slaves who faced legislated limits, in Africa and predominantly in Liberia, believing blacks would face better chances for freedom in Africa than in the U.S. The American Colonization Society was founded in 1816 in Washington, DC for this purpose, by a group of prominent politicians and slaveholders. During the mid 19th century, there were continuous clashes between Liberian government and British merchants from Sierra Leone. The merchants were of the argument that the country had no rights to impose taxes. The elites in the colony wanted to declare sovereignty to overcome the issue, resulting in the declaration. During the 1846 referendum, there was a voting on declaration of independence to the nation. On 26 July 1847, the nation declared itself independent based on the popular voting and thus became the first democratic country in Africa.
The Legislature of Liberia was modeled based on the Legislature of United States. It is bicameral in nature with a Senate and the House of Representatives. There are 15 counties in the country and based on the population, each county is defined to have at least two members, while the total number of members to the house including the Speaker being 71. Each member represents an electoral district and elected to a four year term (six years after 2011 elections) based on popular vote. There were 18 senators, two each for the nine counties and they serve a six year term (30 senators, 15 counties and nine years from 2011). Senators are also elected based on plurality of votes. The Vice-President is the head of the Senate and he also acts as President in his absence.
To be eligible as a voter, one had to possess 18 years of age, registered on electoral rolls and own a real estate valued at least L$2,000. Persons who are of foreign origin, insane and convicted in crime were not eligible. The eligibility criteria to be candidate of a political party in the House of Representatives was residence in the country for two years continuously before the elections, ownership of real estate and should be 23 years of age. The eligibility criteria to be candidate of a political party in the Senate was residence in the country for three years continuously before the elections, ownership of real estate and should be 25 years of age.
True Whig Party, founded in 1869, was one of the oldest political parties in the world and the oldest in Africa. The party was in power from 1877. The Party had a majority of Americo-Liberians, who descended from the United States and formed less than one per cent of the total population of Liberia as per the census of 1962. President William Tubman ruled from 1947 until his death in 1971 and William Tolbert continued after it. The ruling President Tolbert from True Whig Party campaigned that if they were re-elected to power, the government would work towards rural empowerment and the infrastructure development. The elections were the first after the eligible age of elections was reduced to 18. It was a combined elections for choosing the President, Representatives of the House and the Senate. The elections were held on 7 October 1975 and a saw a voter turn around of close to 80 per cent, with an estimated 750,000 casting their vote.
|Party||Votes||%||House seats||Senate seats|
|True Whig Party||100||71||18|
The ruling President Tolbert was re-elected as the President of the country along with all the candidates of his party for the House of Representatives and the Senate. During 1975, there was an amendment to the constitution that prevented a single person from continuing as President for more than two four year terms.
Independent observers claim that the elections in 1975 along with that of the earlier elections were rigged by the ruling True Whig Party to assert their claim on Single party rule and also to show their majority. All the candidates of the Party during the elections were unopposed. In spite of no opposition, the number of eligible voters were enhanced by around 200,000, making the number of voters more than the number of eligible voters. There were no voter registries maintained during the elections and people were allowed to vote many number of times. A view has also been placed that the electorate lost confidence in the election system thereby leading to frequent political crisis in the country.
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