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The Liberian Senate

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A historical Archive of past election results for this chamber can be found on a separate page

Parliament name Legislature
Structure of parliament Bicameral
Chamber name The Liberian Senate
Related chamber (for bicameral parliaments) House of Representatives
Dates of election / renewal (from/to) 11 October 2011
Purpose of elections Elections were held for one-half of the seats in the Senate (15) on the normal expiry of the members' term of office.
At stake in the 2011 elections were 73 seats in the House of Representatives (up from 64, see note 1) and 15 seats in the Senate (see note 2). The elections were held in parallel with the presidential elections.

In the previous parliamentary elections held in October 2005, no party won a majority. The Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) became the largest party in the House, winning 15 of the 64 seats at stake. It also took three seats in the 30-member Senate. The Coalition for the Transformation of Liberia (COTOL) came in first in the Senate with seven seats, also taking eight in the House. The Liberty Party (LP) took nine House seats and three Senate seats. The Unity Party (UP) took eight House seats and four Senate seats. In the presidential elections, Ms. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf (UP) triumphed over Mr. George Weah (CDC) - a former football star - in the run-off elections held in November, thereby becoming the first elected woman Head of State in Africa. She was officially sworn in in January 2006.

The 2005 elections were the first to be held after the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) was concluded between the Government of Liberia and Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD), the Movement for Democracy in Liberia (MODEL) and other political parties in April 2003. The LURD and the MODEL had fought to oust then President Charles Taylor.

The civil war continued to cast a shadow over the country. In February 2006, President Sirleaf established the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) to investigate human rights abuses between 1979 and 2003. In April 2006, a UN-backed court in Sierra Leone began proceedings against former President Taylor on charges of crimes against humanity committed in Sierra Leone. In June, the International Criminal Court in The Hague agreed to host his trial, which started in June 2007.

In February 2009, President Sirleaf stated before the TRC that she had backed former President Taylor when he had launched the war in 1989. In July, the TRC submitted a report to parliament, which recommended the prosecution of some 200 people. It also named 50 government officials, including President Sirleaf, who it felt should be barred from public office for 30 years. Although the President herself did not take legal action against the TRC decision, another official concerned by the TRC's decision brought the case to court. In January 2011, the Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional to ban individuals without allowing them due process in keeping with law. The court ruling paved the way for the President to seek a new term in 2011.

In the meantime, in August 2010, both Houses of Parliament passed four amendments to the Constitution (see note 3). The amendments, including changing the date of parliamentary and presidential elections from October to November, were put to a referendum in August 2011. However, none of the four amendments obtained the required two-thirds majority, thereby triggering elections for 11 October.

In all, 793 candidates were vying for seats in the House of Representatives as compared with 99 for the Senate. In addition, there were 16 presidential candidates. President Sirleaf's main rival was Mr. Winston Tubman (CDC), a Harvard-trained lawyer and former UN diplomat. His running mate was local football legend Weah. Other candidates included Prince Yormie Johnson of the National Union of Democratic Progress (NUDP) and Mr. Charles Walker Brumskine (LP).

The media focused on the presidential elections, pushing parliamentary polls to the back burner. President Sirleaf's UP ran on the government's record, citing social development and the party's commitment to women's rights. She used the slogan "So much done. So much to do", calling on voters' support for a second term. Despite an abundance of natural resources, such as rubber and iron ore, many people live in poverty in Liberia, where the unemployment rate has reached 80 per cent.

Mr. Tubman's CDC presented its "Agenda for Prosperity". It promised to work for sustainable peace and national reconciliation, and to tackle corruption. The CDC was in an electoral alliance with several parties, including former President Taylor's National Patriotic Party (NPP), led by his former wife Jewel Taylor, also a Senator.

Ms. Taylor (NPP) said that Liberians had suffered over the past six years and the 2011 elections provided an opportunity for them to constitutionally change things for the better. She called on voters' support for the CDC's presidential candidate, arguing that the dreams and aspirations of the people would be achievable only under a Tubman-Weah administration.

Mr. Johnson's NUDP pledged to work for economic, infrastructure and human resource development. It promised to work for better education, health, welfare and human rights so as to transform Liberia from an "underdeveloped and poverty-stricken nation" into a "developed, healthy, educated and beautiful nation of the world".

Mr. Brumskine's LP criticized the UP-led government for not taking sufficient measures to tackle poverty and for selling off Liberia's natural resources with very little benefit accruing to the Liberian people. It pledged to promote the general welfare of Liberians by creating more jobs to enhance their dignity.

Shortly before polling day, on 7 October, the President was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, together with two other women, for her efforts to bring peace to Liberia following a protracted war. CDC candidate Tubman said the announcement was a conspiracy by the international community to get President Sirleaf re-elected. He stated that the President had on the contrary contributed to the war in Liberia, referring to the TRC's findings.

In all, 71.55 per cent of the nearly 1.8 million registered voters turned out at the polls.

As in the 2005 elections, no party secured a majority in the parliamentary elections. President Sirleaf's UP came in first in the House elections, taking 24 seats. The CDC followed with 11. The LP, the NUDP and the National Democratic Coalition (NDC) took seven, six and five seats respectively. Six other parties took fewer than three seats each and the remainder went to nine independent candidates. In the Senate, the UP and NPP came in first, taking four seats each. The CDC took two and five other parties took one seat each.

In the presidential elections, no candidate received the required majority of votes to be elected in the first round. After the Election Commission announced that President Sirleaf had received the highest number of votes in the first round, opposition parties, including the CDC, demanded a recount, alleging fraud. The Carter Center stated that despite "considerable challenges" the voting process had been "peaceful, orderly, and remarkably transparent", adding that tallying and tabulation process was "largely transparent with no evidence of systematic fraud and manipulation of results". The CDC subsequently withdrew its demand, paving the way for the run-off elections between President Sirleaf (UP) and Mr. Tubman (CDC) to be held on 8 November.

On 8 November, Ms. Sirleaf (UP) won the run-off elections.

The newly elected parliament held its first session on 9 January 2012. Mr. J. Alex Tyler (UP) was re-elected Speaker of the House of Representatives and Mr. Gbezhongar Findley (UP) was elected President pro tempore of the Senate.

Note 1:
Article 80 (c) of the Constitution requires the NEC to re-apportion the constituencies immediately following a national census and before the next election in accordance with the new population figures so that every constituency shall have as close to the same population as possible. The provision in the Threshold Resolution stipulates that counties retain their number of House seats. However, following the 2008 census, on 20 July 2010, parliament passed a joint Resolution recommending that nine more seats be added to the House of Representatives, bringing the total to 73 seats. The National Election Commission (NEC) subsequently reapportioned all 73 districts. In May 2011, the Liberal Party (LP) filed a petition in court arguing that only the districts for the nine additional seats should be apportioned. On 14 June, the Supreme Court dismissed the LP's petition, thereby confirming the delimitation of the districts proposed by the NEC.

Note 2:
Candidates who obtained the second highest number of valid votes cast in the 2005 elections served a six year instead of a nine-year term. The 2011 elections were held for one seat in each of the country's 15 counties. All senators elected in 2011 will serve a nine-year term.

Note 3:
Other amendments aimed at applying a one-round election for the presidency in lieu of the two-round system; reducing the number of years a presidential candidate needs to have lived in Liberia from 10 to five ; and increasing the retirement age of Supreme Court judges from 70 to 75.
Voter turnout
Round no 111 October 2011
Number of registered electors
Blank or invalid ballot papers
Valid votes

Distribution of seats
Round no 1
Political Group Total
National Patriotic Party (NPP) 4
Unity Party (UP) 4
Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) 2
Alliance for Peace and Democracy (APD) 1
Liberia Destiny Party (LDP) 1
National Democratic Coalition (NDC) 1
National Union for Democratic Progress (NUDP) 1
Independents 1
Distribution of seats according to sex
Percent of women
Distribution of seats according to age
Distribution of seats according to profession
Note on the number of women:
One woman was elected in 2011, bringing the total number of women in the Senate to four. (Senate, 28.12.2011)

Senate (28.12.2011)

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