When this great party was formed, I was a small kid in the village and not even in school. But growing up through primary and then secondary school, I began to appreciate the eloquence, wisdom, education, and maturity of the party leaders.
I would also later learn, with admiration, how these leaders took on the Jawara administration. This sentiment may have also been shared by members of the Military Junta that overthrew the PPP government and, perhaps, played influencing factor in the decision not to ban PDOIS.
Like so many people in my age category during the late 90s and early 2000, ideology or dogma was not the premise for my political inclination or affiliation. I was attracted to PDOIS leaders’ unmatched oratory skills. Nothing else mattered. Of course, this naive position evolved over the years.
It is a commonly known knowledge that PDOIS as a party embodies impressive ideals of total sovereignty, freedom, and respect for and protection of rights of all citizens.
Through Foroyaa Newspaper, we see the fierce stance of a party against all excesses of power and rights violations of citizens. The party is an ardent believer of constitutional law and advocates for the most defenseless and the most vulnerable of the society through the Foroyaa platform.
Thus, PDOIS’ historic failure to attract or sway voters and swell its ranks is not because of the unfavorable personal ratings of the party leaders. PDOIS leadership is very much admired and respected.
This political setback, unimproved after almost three decades of existence, is mostly due to disconnect with the significant voting block of the population in terms of messaging and appeal among others.
With PDOIS so entrenched in dogma and very little or no room for flexibility, it finds itself increasingly at odds with dynamic nature of politics in particular and the world at large.
The ‘my way or the highway’ position often assumed by the party also contributes significantly to its subpar performance to expand the base, especially among the shifting demographics.
Formation of the historic coalition that led to the defeat of a brutal dictator and the ensuing impasse had handed PDOIS strong political capital more than any other political party in the country by raising the national and international profile of the party leadership and agenda.
However, PDOIS’ refusal to take up executive positions citing party principles shocked the entire nation and everyone keenly following the situation
It was an egregious political blunder that could hunt PDOIS for a long time and a confirmation of the general belief the party is hardly ready to acquiesce in matters that conflict with its rigid dogma while creating an early crack in the hard fought Coalition partnership well before the National Assembly elections.
The elitist perception attached to PDOIS as a party is given credence by some of its members, supporters and sympathizers who are quick to condescendingly tout their education and understanding of issues while branding the rest as uneducated masses in need of sophisticated leadership, enlightenment and guidance – a huge turn off for a people whose mandate the party seeks.
For a political party that struggles to rally many people about thirty years since it came into the political scene should do a thorough soul search and reassess persuasive strategies.
Contrary to what some PDOIS supporters believe, Gambians are not unsophisticated to receive or understand its message; rather, the party appears unsophisticated enough to relate with Gambians.
This may partly explain why political parties such as PPP, UDP and more recently, GDC have made progress where PDOIS failed.
Mass of people who stream toward and vote for these parties are not doing so out of ignorance but because they identify with their policies and messages.
Success in politics sometimes boils down to flexibility and relatability and PDOIS, which is formed to challenge the status quo and stand for the common person, should begin speaking the language of the common person and manifest flexibility if it wants to remain politically viable going forward.