6 elections in 8 days
February 28, 2011 § 1 Comment
Or it could have been. Actually we are due a mere five as Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni won emphatically enough on the first round to negate the need for a second.
First up on the 4th of March is Samoa. Samoa’s system of government is – depending upon your point of view – either delightfully bonkers, deeply iniquitous or both. 47 members are elected to the Parliament – or Fono – by multi member first past the post, although in practice it is now virtually single-member as there are now 35 single member seats and only 6 two member seats. The Fono elects a Prime Minister who has the confidence of the house and an O le Ao o le Malo – or symbolic head of state – for a five year term.
Meanwhile the politics of day-to-day Samoan life is dominated by the network of 35,000 tribal chiefs – the Matai – all of whom answer to the four paramount or royal chiefs: the Tama a Aiga. When the 1960 constitution was established it was envisioned that the leaders of government would always be one of the four Tama a Aiga. In actual fact that is not required but – tradition being what it is – the O le Ao o le Malo has always been one of the Tama a Aiga, and the first Prime Minister not to be one wasn’t elected until 1982. Up till 1990 the Matai were the only people allowed to vote and, to this day, only the Matai can stand for election.
O le Ao o le Malo is Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Tupuola Tufuga Efi – and he is not up for re-election until 2012. He was also Prime Minister up until 1982. These days he is seen as a fairly non partisan and consensual figure but it was not always thus. In the 1980s opposition to his economic reforms led to the creation of Samoa’s strongest political force: the Human Rights Protection Party.
They have now been in power for more than twenty years (nearly thirty years bar six months in 1987) and are most likely to win again, securing another term for Prime Minister Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi. At the last election they had 30 of the 49 seats and briefly gained another five when five independents joined them. They are campaigning on the success of the 2007 switch from right hand driving to left hand driving, their response to the recent Tsunami, and their desire to turn Samoa into a renewable energy and sports hub.
The remaining seats at the last election went to nine independents (which became four when five joined the HRPP) and to the Samoan Democratic United Party: a centre-rightish pan opposition grouping who won the remaining 10. However the SDUP lost one seat following a court case and two more following defections and so ceased to be recognised as a political party. Some the former SDUP leadership joined the HRPP whilst a group of 11 independents mainly comprising of the backbenchers clubbed together and formed a new opposition party: the Tautua Samoa Party.
They are campaigning at this election primarily on the HRPP’s plan to legalise gambling – which the HRPP claim makes financial sense but the TSP claim will increase crime. The TSP also want to shorten parliamentary terms and cut public spending. Part of their campaigning strategy – sending their leader to spend a week fasting in the woods in search of divine intervention – is unlikely to be particularly successful, but other parts – reaching out to smaller opposition parties like the anti right-hand-drive People’s Party (the change from right to left was incredibly controversial and led to the biggest protests in Samoan history) and the anti tribalist Samoa Party – may well stand them in better stead.
The field is made up by the small left wing Samoa Progressive Political Party and the Christian Party – who despite the name mostly campaign on Women’s issues.
Here are some former Samoan Rugby heroes Sapola and Palu telling you to vote – they may be somewhat over-egging the point:
Then on the 6th of March we have Estonia and Benin.
I’m writing about Benin for Think Africa – and will put the piece up once it is up there. In the meantime I wrote about Benin before here.
Estonia uses a modified form of d’Hondt PR to elect 101 members using two tiers (there are district constituencies and then the final result is averaged over the nation) semi-open lists (lists are open at the district tier with anyone meeting the Hare quota automatically elected – lists are closed at the national tier), a modified formula (the number of seats is multiplied by 0.9 to slightly prioritise larger parties), a 5% threshold (at the national tier only), and full internet voting (the only country in the world to do so).
Currently the government is formed by the market liberal Reform Party (32 seats) led by the popular PM Andrus Ansip, in coalition with the liberal conservative Respublica (19 seats). He formerly had an outright majority with the Social Democrats (13 seats) but they walked out in 2009 and he has been in a technical minority (as the Speaker is also Reform making it 50-50) ever since after talks with the agrarian People’s Party (2 seats) failed.
The main opposition comes from the centrist socially liberal Centre Party (28 seats), although the Greens (6 seats) and one independent also enjoy representation. Unemployment of around 14% is set to be the big issue, and should hurt the government, Ansip’s personal popularity notwithstanding.
Here’s a jolly guide to voting online:
Then on the eighth of March it’s The Federated States of Micronesia. Elections are non partisan so there’s not much to say – the relative populations of, and turnout on, the islands seems to be the main determining factor. Ten members are elected by first past the post every two years, four are elected by d’Hondt PR across the whole federation every four years (this is the four yearly election). That makes a parliament of 14 who then elect the President and Vice President from amongst the four elected by PR. By elections are then held to replace the winners in Parliament.
Now here’s some results:
François Bozizé – KNK – 66.08%
Ange-Félix Patassé – independent – 20.10%
Martin Ziguélé – MLPC – 6.46%
Emile Gros Raymond Nakombo – Central African Democratic Rally (RDC) – 4.64%
Jean-Jacques Démafouth – ARPD- 2.72%
Going to a second round runoff on March 20th: 70
National Union of Democracy and Renewal: 11
15 other minor parties (details sketchy): 44
Uganda, I gave some results and background here (scroll down). Here are the full Parliamentary results:
Democratic Party 11
Conservative Party 1
Justice Forum 1
Ireland, more background here (scroll down)
Sinn Fein 13
Still recounting 13