Your shoes and the world to come

October 28, 2010 § 3 Comments

To be honest the title is not hugely relevant to the article, but “election preview” just sounded so dull. Besides your shoes might come from one of the countries mentioned (I was saving the title for when Taiwanese politics came up in the news, but that might be a long wait). No I haven’t gone totally mad, but I did wake up today feeling like Envy (the band not the emotion). And no I don’t mean I woke up today believing myself to be five Japanese guitarists (or the sixth deadly sin) but just that I wanted to listen to some (the song by the band not the …. ANYWAY).

Where was I?

Four elections on Sunday. Brazil’s second round presidential and gubernatorial elections are previewed here. Basically, expect Lula’s chosen successor Dilma Rousseff to walk it, but the pain of having to support one of the top two candidates is having an interesting effect on the smaller parties and there have been splits and resignations aplenty.

Bahrain will have its second round too – the consequences of which we discussed here.

Niger will have a constitutional referendum which I previewed here. Expect an easy win but turnout will be interesting to see how keen the public are on the new arrangements.

Most interesting though will be the Presidential and parliamentary elections in the Cote d’Ivoire:


The country was split in half by the 2002 civil war. The predominately Muslim north is controlled by various rebel groups: some of which – including the largest, Guillaume Soro’s “New Force” – are involved in power sharing arrangements negotiated with the government, but many others of which are still at war. Meanwhile the government of President Laurent Gbagbo only really controls the south of the country.

These elections are over five years late, it is the eighth attempt at holding them, and question marks still remain as to how fair they will actually be. A favoured trick used in the past has been to declare that rival candidates or their supporters are not sufficiently Ivorian to qualify to vote. The OSCE will wait until elections are over before formally commenting.

Under the terms of the 2007 peace treaty between New Force and the Government Gbagbo made Soro his Prime Minister. This was an astute move as, as PM, Soro is now ineligible to run for President. Indeed there is a rumour that Soro is deliberately keeping quiet during the election as part of a Granta-style deal with Gbagbo whereby Gbagbo will back Soro in 2015.

Whether or not this is the case, it is likely that with Soro out of the race, the opposition will prove too divided to defeat Gbagbo. However, if they can keep him below the 50% mark then it could trigger a very interesting runoff election – if the opposition can unify around the second placed candidate. That is likely to be either former president Henri Konan Bedie – deposed in a coup in 1999, or New Force backed Republican Party candidate Allasane Outarra. These two have worked together in the past. However, it is likely that Outarra would be a better second round candidate; the south is more likely to accept Outarra than the north is Bedie: Outarra has gone out of his way to campaign in the south, whereas memories in the north of Bedie’s 1990s anti-Muslim rhetoric (which some blame for the civil war) are still strong, despite his recent attempts at reconciliation.

The only real opinion poll I’ve seen has Gbagbo on 46%, Bedie on 26% and Outara on 24% so it could be a close call on if there is a runoff – and who will be in it..

The parliamentary elections should also be interesting. 225 seats are elected by first-past-the-post. Gbagbo’s Popular Front should do well, but if they carry all before them then the opposition will almost certainly cry foul. The Republican Party should sweep the North, and Bedie’s Democratic party should pick up some seats in the south. When these elections were first called the two parties had an electoral pact to work together against the Popular Front in the parliamentary elections – but that was now over five years ago, and it is not clear if the pact is still in place.

Speaking of Republicans and Democrats, the next elections after those are the US midterms on Tuesday. Then we have a very exciting week: Burma, Egypt, Haiti, Azerbaijan and Jordan all going to the polls. Tom Harris previewed the mid-terms for us earlier this week – expect the second half any day now – and I will do a preview of the other five, and a roundup of these three results, sometime on Monday or Tuesday.

If any confused Japanese post-rock fans read through all of that in the hope that it would be relevant to them then I can only apologise. But, hey, you’ve got to get new readers somehow.

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