Primary elections, often abbreviated to primaries, are a process by which voters can indicate their preference for their party’s candidate, or a candidate in general, in an upcoming general election, local election, or by-election. Depending on the country and administrative divisions within the country, voters might consist of the general public in what is called an open primary, or solely the members of a political party in what is called a closed primary. In addition to these, there are other variants on primaries that are used by many countries holding elections throughout the world.
The origins of primary elections can be traced to the progressive movement in the United States, which aimed to take the power of candidate nomination from party leaders to the people. However, political parties control the method of nomination of candidates for office in the name of the party. Other methods of selecting candidates include caucuses, internal selection by a party body such as a convention or party congress, direct nomination by the party leader, and nomination meetings.
Primary elections are typically held for offices that have a rigid term, such as a president, governor or member of a legislature. Offices such as a prime minister, which can be replaced without recourse to a new election, typically do not have dedicated primaries of their own; rather, the party typically nominates its internal party leader as its candidate for such an office.
In an open primary, voters of any affiliation may vote in the primary of any party. They cannot vote in more than one party’s primary, although that prohibition can be difficult to enforce in the event a party has a primary runoff election. In many open primary states, voters do not indicate partisan affiliation when they register to vote.
One area of contention in open primaries is “crossover” voting. It most often involves voters affiliated with one political party voting in the primary of another political party to influence that party’s nomination. For example, if a district routinely elects the Democratic nominee, Republican voters may vote in the Democratic party primary to attempt to influence the outcome. This could be a good-faith attempt to select a more conservative Democratic nominee who would be palatable to the Republican voters, or it could be sabotage, an attempt to nominate a weaker candidate who is easier to defeat in the general election.
An increasing number of political parties are using primary elections to fill the most important and visible positions in their party structures. Primary elections are also seen as a mechanism for increasing party-member engagement. Some political parties that hold primary elections have gone a step further to enlarge the ‘selectorate’, or those eligible to vote in the election, by extending the right to vote in the primary beyond their formal memberships.
Open primary elections are elections within a political party in which it is not only the formal membership that has the right to vote, but non-members also form part of the selectorate. The structure of open primaries varies from party to party. This Primer explains the key decisions and questions that political parties are most likely to face when considering or conducting open primaries.
Presidential and National Assembly elections have been slated for February 25, 2023 while governorship, state assembly elections will be held on March 11, 2023 and primary elections for 2023 general elections in Nigeria for the two major political parties in Nigeria, PDP and APC are as follows:
- House of Assembly:
(a) PDP – Saturday, May 7th.
(b) APC – Tuesday, May 17th.
- House of Representatives:
(a) PDP – Thursday, May 12th.
(b) APC – Thursday, May 19th.
(a) PDP – Saturday, May 14th.
(b) APC – Saturday, May 21st.
(a) PDP – Saturday, May 21st.
(b) APC – Tuesday, May 24th.
(a) PDP – Saturday/Sunday, May 28th/29th.
(b) APC – Tuesday, May 31st.
All in all, I wish all the political parties should be given ample opportunity for their candidates to exercise their franchise.
BELLO SHEHU SHUNI