Hanging Chads

March 30, 2011 § 2 Comments

The brilliant Think Africa Press have published the first part of my analysis of Chad’s election results. The second part, which deals with the potential disparities I came across, should be coming soon. The article was rightly cut for length but here, in case anyone is interested in the minutiae, is the original. It still appears to me that these results haven’t been published in full anywhere else. The anomalies section contains spoilers for part 2 and will make more sense once that is out:

A detailed analysis of election results in Chad reveals some concerning anomalies, and also throws light on the nature of Chadian politics.

Chad had parliamentary elections on the 13th and 20th February. This brought a predictable landslide for the ruling MPS party of Idriss Déby. Déby has been leader of Chad since 1990, and his regime has a poor reputation for democratic freedom. Déby started life a northern rebel leader, and dissatisfaction with his rule in the south has led to an ongoing low level civil war – with links to the wars in Sudan and the Central African Republic.

The war led to the repeated postponement of parliamentary elections, which were finally held over five years after the original term expired in 2002. In the meantime the political landscape had been redrawn: feeling that opposition was futile, many of the larger opposition parties came to terms with Déby-MPS rule, and so the northern based Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP), and two branches of the southern based National Rally for Development and Progress (RNDP and VIVA) of former PM Kassiré Koumakoye (once Déby’s main rival), have joined forces with the MPS and are running joint tickets.

This leaves the southern based National Union for Democracy and Renewal as the principal opposition party, although they too have supported Déby on occasions. A more explicitly oppositional line is taken by the Union for Renewal and Democracy (URD) of Wadel Abdelkader Kamougué. In addition there is the moderate RNDT and pro federalist FAR-PF, and a host of minor political parties with local or personal ambitions.

Results

Results from Mayo Boneye have not been published yet, although the number of votes cast suggests that of the four seats the MPS/VIVA/RNDP should pick up two more seats and the PDPT and UNDR should pick up one more seat each. Some news agencies draw no distinction between MPS candidates and those elected on MPS/RDP joint tickets. In the table below forward slashes indicate joint tickets.

Party Seats Allies Seats Total
MPS 83 MPS/RDP

MPS/VIVA/RNDP

MPS/VIVA/RDP

MPS/VIVA

27

14

4

3

131
UNDR 9 UNDR-PLD 1 10
URD 8     8
RNDT 6 RNDT Le Reveil 2 8
FAR-PF 4     4
CTPD 2     2
PDSA 2     2
UDR 2     2
AND 1     1
AND/R 1     1
ART/CNDS: 1     1
MPDT 1     1
MPTR 1     1
PAP-JS 1     1
PDI-RPT 1     1
PLD-UNDR 1     1
PUR 1     1
PPJE-ART-CNDS 1     1
RAPAD 1     1
SONOR 1     1
UDT 1     1
UET-V 1     1
UFD-PR 1     1
USND 1     1

Anomalies

Analysing the result has also brought to light some troubling disparities in the officially published election results. These at very least require a coherent explanation, and in the worst case throw some considerable doubt on the validity of the poll. Whilst this may not seem surprising, given Chad’s patchy history with democracy, it is perhaps unexpected in light of the EU observer mission’s comments on the validity of the poll. The impression has been that the democratic shortcomings in Chad were with the media and the lack of a political space for dissent, not with the poll itself.

However, we find serious anomalies both with the turnout in certain constituencies, and with the published results of the election. The scale of some of these anomalies is large enough that, if there is not a reasonable explanation for them, they call into question the validity of the poll. In addition it is possible that these anomalies could have resulted in the wrong result being declared in 19 constituencies, with the potential effect of giving the MPS and allies up to 19 more seats than they were due; it also calls into question two of the seats the UNDR won, and one that the URD won.

It is important to note that this does not evidence of electoral fraud – merely questions which do not have satisfactory answers and a worrying trend of puzzling anomalies which systematically benefit the MPS.

The opposition

If such answers are forthcoming then another explanation is needed for the opposition’s poor performance. This was not a poorly contested election: only 9 of the 71 multiparty seats were uncontested and there were an average of 6.8 parties standing in each constituency. Moreover the MPS and allies only won over 70% of the vote in a further 5 constituencies (the UNDR also won 74% of the vote in their stronghold of Haraze-Mangeueigne). These 16 seats put together only account for 39 of the seats in Chad’s parliament – and considering seats where the MPS won more than 60% only adds in another 10 constituencies and 23 seats. This means that given Chad’s electoral system 125 of the 188 seats were competitive, in that the opposition were reasonably close to winning a seat – and yet they struggled to do so.

Chad has a system whereby if any party wins over 50% of the votes they win all the seats. It they do not then seats are allocated by the highest remainder formula (Hare quota). This counts against the divided opposition, and in favour of the united MPS coalition. However, that does not fully account for the opposition’s poor performance. The MPS picked up 71% of the seats on 53% of the votes: a large disparity to be sure. But the major opposition parties cannot claim to have been treated harshly by the system: the UNDR won 5.4% of seats on 5.5% of votes, the URD won 4.3% of seats on 5.4% of votes, and the RNDT won 4.3% of seats on 3.3% of votes. As always minor parties were worst hit by the system: their 32.8% of the vote only securing 15% of the seats.

The real reason for the MPS’ success lies in the widespread nature of its support and its helpful distribution. Indeed only two seats (Haraze-Mangeueigne and Lac Lere) returned no MPS members and even there the MPS won 29.7% and 32.8% of the vote. Indeed there were only six seats where the MPS won under 30% of the vote and only two where they won under 20% – and even then they won seats. As expected the MPS struggled most in the far south, with the regions of Logone, Mayo, and Mandoul showing least support: 20 of the 53 opposition members elected come from these three regions. Yet even here the MPS won 23 seats.

In other words, whilst the opposition were able to run the MPS close in almost every seat, they lacked the co-ordinated approach or trans-Chad support to actually convert threatening to win into winning. This is partly in the nature of a disparate and fragmented opposition, and partly the result of a failure of the opposition to attract national support, or to coordinate campaigning.

Looking ahead

Chad will have presidential elections on April the 24th, and on this showing they should not give Déby sleepless nights. Wadal Abdelkader Kamougué (URD), Albert Pahimi Padacké (RNDT Le Réveil), Nadji Madou (ASRI), Ngarléjy Yorongar (FAR-PF), and Saleh Kebzabo (UNDR) will also run, but need to run a far more co-ordinated campaign if they are to make an impact.

Meanwhile if questions about the validity of the poll are not answered then it may lead to a rejection of Déby’s legitimacy and a return to civil war.

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