POLITICAL parties taking part in the August general elections have by now adopted their candidates to contest various positions that are up for grabs.
In the past week, members of different political parties aired either their disapproval or approval over certain candidates.
A research paper prepared by the European Commission indicates that the nomination of candidates by political parties varies significantly, both among countries and between political parties within each country.
This diversity is partly a consequence of the legal treatment of political parties in each political system and their consideration as public or private entities.
In contemporary democracies, two main principles are central to the internal functioning of political parties.
The first one is the principle of party autonomy, under which political parties are granted associational autonomy in their internal and external functioning.
According to this principle, political parties should be free to establish their own organisation and the rules for selecting party leaders and candidates, since this is regarded as integral to the concept of associational autonomy.
The second element is the principle of internal democracy, the argument being that because political parties are essential for political participation, they should respect democratic requirements within their internal organisation.
There can be tensions between the principle of party autonomy on the one hand and that of requiring internal democracy on the other.
It is not surprising that the influence of each principle differs in each system.
Some countries stress the respect for the freedom of political parties, while others place greater emphasis on compliance with internal democratic requirements of political parties.
As candidates are availed to the voters, it is important to notice the importance of democracy in each political party, in the same manner as one’s choice of a candidate will be respected on August 11.
Political party members should understand that accepting a candidate floated by their respective party managers is cardinal, especially at a point when the election campaigns get intense.
Political heavyweights, the Patriotic Front (PF) and United Party for National Development (UPND), have appealed to their members to remain calm, with the latter indicating that there is still room to address these matters which are causing some worry from some electoral stakeholders.
It is not only the interest of the respective parties that these worries, over the nominated candidates, are seemingly raising some pockets of dust here and there.
On a wider picture, we agree with organisations such the Anti-Voter Apathy Project (AVAP) that sees a spill-over effect of stirring apathy among the electorate, who belong to the very section of voters that are concerned with the adoption process.
Such instances should be watched carefully and parties should ensure that their members are satisfied with the process and, where possible, they should be met by their leaders to explain the criteria used to pick certain names.
President Edgar Lungu met his members at the weekend to explain why certain people were picked to represent the party at various levels and why other names were not adopted.
This is how it should be.
Political harmony is cardinal at any juncture during campaigns and it is usually in such cases where some party members want to protest the names of some candidates that they are guaranteed that the party’s vision to meet the aspirations of the voters will be met, not judging by who has been adopted or who has not.
Peace is vital and any indicators that this is being threatened should be addressed quickly and amicably so that all concerned parties vote for the candidate that their party leaders believe will deliver.
This is what democracy is all about – acceptance of any outcome is vital in the field of politics.