Nigeria, gone with the wind

March 28, 2011 § 2 Comments

Two quick updates first of all. The Central African Republic will report its election results within the next 8 days but with the opposition boycotting the election expect the KNK to win almost all of the 70 seats still in contention. Similarly it will be a week before we know the result in Haiti but it does appear that Martelly has won comfortably.

And so to Nigeria.

The arguably much more important Presidential election is next week, but this week it is the turn of the gubernatorial and legislative elections. Nigeria is highly federal with a constitution and electoral system based heavily on the USA and 36 highly independent states (this explains why laws in the predominantly Muslim north are so different from laws in the predominantly Christian south). On April 2nd all the governors, all 109 senators, and all 360 members of the House of Representatives are up, using first past the post elections in all cases.

Nigerian politics is dominated by the PDP. They have 87 of the 109 senate seats, 263 of the 360 representatives seats and 26 of the 36 Governor’s mansions. They are socially conservative, economically liberal, and electorally shameless. Crucially, from a point of view both of their success (vote rigging aside) and of Nigeria’s political dynamic they are reasonably pro-state autonomy – it was they who allowed the northern Muslim states to introduce Sharia law. However for all that, their support is stronger in the Christian south and it is from the Muslim north that most opposition has traditionally come, as this map from my friends at Electoral Geography shows (Obasanjo was the PDP candidate in this election).

2003 Nigerian Presidential elections

Most prominent of the opposition groups is the ANPP. Conservatives in every sense of the word, they have the governorship of three states – including the powerful and populous Kano state – 14 senators and 63 representatives. In addition, there are two more strong challengers from the north: the previously small CPC will enjoy a boost in fame after picking former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari as its presidential candidate. And another northern Muslim Mallam Nuhu Ribadu is also running for the presidency, and will be supporting opposition candidates in the north with his high profile campaign.

Meanwhile the PDP are set to struggle in the north after breaking an unwritten rule of candidate selection. The PDP have always rotated the presidential candidacy between northern Muslims and southern Christians. Last time they chose a northerner, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, but he became very sick about a year into his term and died two years in leaving a southerner (with a brilliant name), Goodluck Jonathan, to take over. Many northerners feel this means it is now their turn again, but Jonathan is determined to run for re-election (arguing that he never got a full term).

In Nigeria’s political prototype, the USA, in 1860 this kind of north south divide left the nation totally split electorally and the result was fairly unpleasant. Could the same thing happen in Nigeria? Well it could – the ascetic might be a bit different (although, if it does come up, “frankly my dear I couldn’t give a damn” is “da gaskiya ƙaunataccen na iya ba da ya tsine wa” in Hausa) – but I think not.

Firstly it won’t happen because the PDP has a far greater control of the north than the Republicans had the south in 1860, and so they will win plenty of governorships and seats in the north by cheating. Secondly, the north vs south story is perhaps the biggest one, and the easiest to tell, but it is not the only story of this election.

The largest opposition force in state politics at the moment, with five governor’s mansions, is the liberal southern-based Action Congress. They also have 6 senators and thirty representatives. The Progressive Grand Alliance – another southern liberal movement – also have two governor’s mansions, a senator, and three representatives. The centre-left Labour party is also competitive in most urban areas across the nation, and runs one state and holds one seat. Indeed to categorise this election as a north vs south / PDP vs the rest election is to miss the fact that the PDP are currently out of power in more states in the south than they are in the north. North vs south is not the only story in this election.

The PDP will win, Jonathan shouldn’t need any Goodluck, but what will be interesting will be to see what emerges as the new regional dynamics of the Nigerian opposition movement. Well I’ll find that interesting anyway.


If I was president, I’d get elected on Friday, assassinated on Saturday, and buried on Sunday

March 17, 2011 § Leave a comment

We have three elections on Saturday: Benin and Haiti both have second round Presidential elections, and the Central African Republic will have runoff elections in 70 of the 105 seats in its Parliament.

The CAR is the simplest so we’ll do it first. I discussed the result of the first round earlier so you can see the problem. If you scroll down here you can read the back story as to how this could have been a quite interesting election. It won’t be. The KNK will win a stonking majority and the only real question will be how stonking.

Benin has a quite interesting but also straightforward election which again is well set up by my piece here and the country profile here. Since then the only thing to add is that it is going to be really close. It also will almost certainly be delayed as final first round results haven’t been confirmed yet. Partial results suggest Houngbedji may be leading Yayi on partial results but Yayi will probably edge ahead and it will almost certainly be a runoff: Abdoulaye Bio Tchane appears to have secured a third but a distant third.

It is not clear yet how much of the psephology surrounding the election is mere speculation but the received wisdom appears to be that Yayi’s native north have voted heavily for him but the nation’s political elites and the voters they control have gone for Houngbedji.

Which brings us to Haiti and I barely know where to begin.

Scroll down here (and go to previous entries) and you will begin to get a feel for what a bizzare, problematic, and prolonged election this has been.

They vote on Sunday. After many court cases, much controversy, wrangling and at least four failed attempts at compromise it has finally agreed that the runoff will be between Mirlande Manigat and Michel “Sweet Mickey” Martelly. Manigat is the wife of a military-imposed dictator of the 80s and is vaguely rightist. Martelly is a former crooner who used to dance around naked and is vaguely centrist – although a bit all over the place. The main political forces of the country are kind of divided as most were motivated by support or animosity towards the Preval regime candidate – Celestin – who it was finally determined didn’t even make the second round.

Also up for election in the first round were 11 senate seats (just over a third) and all 99 deputies. Both Senate and Chamber of Deputies were dominated by the Preval/Celestin regime’s Front for Hope which has rebranded itself for this election as Inité – although Haitian politics is fragmented enough that they don’t have a majority in either.

So far they have won 1 senate seat and 10 chamber seats, with 1 other senate seat and 8 other chamber seats going to 6 other parties. The other 9 senate seats and 71 deputy seats also go to a runoff on Sunday. So it looks like whoever of Martelly and Manigat win there will be a fragmented legislative dominated by the old regime.

Sound like a recipe for chaos? Well then Baby Doc Duvalier showed up.

Baby Doc is the son of Papa Doc. He was the dictator for fifteen years, and so played a major part in shaping modern Haiti, although not as large a part as Papa Doc’s (also interestingly only 15 year) rule did. He was not as much of a monster as his father, but he was still fairly appalling. It is not clear what he thought would happen when he arrived back in Haiti after many years of exile, but what did happen is exactly what I expected: he was arrested and charged with human rights abuses and massive corruption.

So surely it couldn’t get any more unstable? Well the day before polls open Aristide is due to return to Haiti.

Aristide is a seminal and controversial figure in the modern political history of Haiti. According to his many fans he was a modernising, initially leftist and then centrist, democratically elected leader who did more than anybody to help the poor, and whose only crime was to get on the wrong side of a US administration who didn’t want anything resembling socialism on their doorstep. According to his equally numerous detractors he was a corrupt totalitarian who burned political opponents alive.

He was first elected in 1991 with 67% of the vote, the first Haitian president elected by anything which could even vaguely be called a fair vote. After less than eight months he was deposed by a military coup arguably with US backing. He was then reinstated in 1994 (again actually, arguably with US backing) and allowed to serve out the last fifteen and a half months of his term. He then successfully installed Rene Preval as his successor (having technically  come up against the term limit of the time despite having been out of power for most of his term) but irrevocably fell out with Preval in a matter of months. He was then re-elected in 2001, and this time managed to serve 35 months before again falling victim to an arguably US backed coup.

It is not clear what his motivation is for returning – he cannot enter the election in any form. It may be that with a dangerous political vacuum potentially arising he wants to start a revolution or a popular Egypt/Tunisia stype movement for fresh elections. It may just be that with the Preval/Celestin regime clearly falling he now feels safe to re-engage with politics at what – one has to admit – is an interesting time.

It is also not clear what the reaction will be: Martelly has helpfully called for him to be murdered whilst the US and much of the international community has suggested the timing is unhelpful and are trying to dissuade or stall him. This article provides an interesting alternative take on that view.

So it could be interesting. Whatever happens I cannot recommend this report highly enough and if you don’t have time to read it then this article has a decent overview of who is who.

Results time

Irish election results have finally been confirmed. As World Elections, who have all the details, said it was an epic Fail.

Updating the detail on the Chad results, it appears parliament will look like this:

MPS: 83

The MPS are Deby’s party and have an outright majority. In addition many seats were won by MPS candidates running on joint tickets with allies  such as VIVA ( a split off from the National Rally for Development and Progress), RDP (Rally for Democracy and Progress – a northern based party) and RNDP (National Rally for Development and Progress – a southern based party). You may remember these parties used to be the principal opposition parties, but how times change. In full:





So a total of 131 seats. Many news outlets are counting the RDP as effectively the same as the MPS and so quoting a figure of 11o for the MPS. In actuality all these parties are effectively the same as the MPS


This is the National Rally for Democracy and renewal, a southern based party with an ambivalent attitude to Deby. One more of their MPs got in on a joint ticket:


URD: 8

This is the Union for Renewal and Democracy of Kamougué who I also mention in the piece linked above.


This is the moderate National Rally for Democracy in Chad (they spell it with a T). In addition two more seats went to what I assume are two allies:

RNDT Le Reveil: 2


A southern, pro-federal state party

And then we get into the really tiny local parties:



UDR: 2

AND: 1

AND/R: 1








PUR: 1



UDT: 1

UET-V: 1



Aside in which I blow my own trumpet: those results are not available anywhere else on the internet yet to my knowledge. The media just reported the headline figures, and the Chad election commission website only put the details up without flagging up who won – this is what I crunched to produce the results.

There is more on the story of the Chad elections if you scroll down here.

Moving on: Samoa

The HRPP absolutely mullahed the TSP, willing 36 seats to 13. I wrote a preview here explaining that that means.

Benin I covered at the top of the Page and Estonia was superbly summarised by World Elections.

Micronesia elected 14 independents as it always does. I don’t think they’ve elected a president from among their number yet.


I wrote about the background here and here. In the end Issoufou beat Oumarou by 58% to 42%, which is kind of what was expected. Most of all it appears the vote was fair

Parliament is now Issoufou’s PNDS: 39 seats, Oumarou’s MSND 26, Amadou’s MDN 24, the ANDP-Zaman Lahiya 8 seats, the RDP-Jama’a 7 seats, Ousmane’s CDS 2, others 5 – in other words the runoffs didn’t really help the big parties.

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.

Finally on the 12th of March its Niger. As I wrote before it’s Seini Oumarou vs Mahamadou Issoufou with twenty parliamentary seats still to decide. It should be close and it will be interesting.

Now here’s some results:

The Central African Republic which I wrote about here and here several times (scroll down).


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%


KNK: 26

Ind: 8


Going to a second round runoff on March 20th: 70

Chad which I wrote about here and here several times (scroll down):

MPS: 133

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:

NRM 279

Ind 37

FDC 34

Democratic Party 11


Conservative Party 1

Justice Forum 1

Ireland, more background here (scroll down)

FG 70

Lab 36

FF 18

Sinn Fein 13

Soc 2

Others 14

Still recounting 13

Some short and simple stories

February 9, 2011 § 2 Comments

Some updates and one election to come this week (plus Switzerland is having a referendum on gun laws but Switzerland has a referendum every other week so I’m not covering it). All of them, touch wood, fairly straightforward.

Cape Verde

The Parliamentary elections have happened and the PAICV won with 37 seats to the MPD’s 33 and the centre-right’s UPID’s 2. Meanwhile I’m afraid I was wrong about the Presidential elections, at one point they certainly were going to be coterminous but at some stage they changed their minds and the presidential election will now be later in the year – possibly august.


You may remember I gave an account of what was to be expected in Niger’s elections here. So far it has come to pass: They were thought to be fair. Tandja loyalist Seini Oumarou made the runoffs with 26%, as did Mahamadou Issoufou of the PNDS with 36%. A lot of opposition are rallying around Issoufou, but surprisingly not all: Hama Amadou of the MDN, and a few others backing Oumarou.

The Parliamentary result was similar: Issoufou’s PNDS taking 39 seats, Oumarou’s MSND 26, Amadou’s MDN 24, Ousmane’s CDS 2, and 24 going to a second round.

Central African Republic

It looks like the poll was somewhat less than fair, or at any rate it was not competitive. Bouzize won with 66% in the first round and his KNK party looks to be in the lead in most of the seats in parliament. Here’s some more about the CAR.


Chad has the first round of its parliamentary elections on the 13th. If you feel like you’ve read that before it is because this is about the third attempt at holding elections. All of its 130 multi member seats will be elected and there will be round one voting for its two-round single member seats. Chad is not a model democracy, and forces loyal to president Déby will certainly triumph. The remaining seats will go to parties whose names contain words like “national”, “renewal”, “rally”, “democracy”, “development”, and “progress. I wrote about Chad at length here and it all remains fairly current.

Quick roundup of election results

January 30, 2011 § 1 Comment

The South Sudan referendum was not close: 99.59% voted yes on a 98% turnout. In other words only around 80,000 people didn’t vote and only about 1600 people voted against.

Still no solution to the impasse in the Ivory Coast but there’s some great maps of the result here

Silva was easily re-elected in Portugal, again maps here.

Provisional results from the Central African Republic suggest Bouzize is well ahead with Patisse in a distant second and probably no need for a second round. All opposition candidates are alleging rigging.

Double Sundae

January 19, 2011 § 3 Comments

Two elections on Sunday, one which should be fairly straightforward but isn’t, one which should have been far from it but will be.

Portugal will elect a President. The President has wide ranging powers in theory, but in practice (following a constitutional convention developed in the ’80s) rarely uses them and acts more as a figurehead.

The centre-right  coalition’s candidate Aníbal Cavaco Silva is standing for a second term. He is the first centre right president since the carnation revolution and the feeling is he should walk it, potentially in the first round. He is backed by the centre right Social Democratic Party, the right wing People’s Party and the new centrist Hope for Portugal Movement.

His main rival is Manuel Alegre, a Socialist Party candidate backed by four left wing parties: the Socialist Party, the Left Bloc, the Portuguese Workers’ Communist Party and the Democratic Party of the Atlantic. The Socialist Party rule the country, and whilst having a President of the opposition has been the status quo for the last four years, and has not yet caused any major problems, they would still dearly like their own man in the job – particularly if things get rocky  over the sovereign debt crisis. Opinion polls show the Socialist Party with a  clear lead in national support but do not yet show this being translated into presidential votes.

And then there are the others: Fernando Nobre is a doctor and founder of AMI – Assistência Médica Internacional (a Portugese split-off from MSF), he was voted the 25th greatest Portuguese man ever in a national poll. He is running as an independent. Then there are two other left wing candidates: Defensor de Moura (a Socialist Party candidate who refuses to back Alegre), and Fransisco Lopez (backed by the Communist Party and the Greens); and one other right wing candidate: José Manuel Coelho of the New Democrats (a breakaway faction of the popular party).

In addition we have a general election in the Central African Republic. To quote my own CAR page:

“In 1993  the first competitive elections were held. They were won by Ange-Félix Patassé (a north-westerner [in other words a Banda, for more on what this means you can read the full article here]) and his MLPC party, which espouses a broad tent pro-democracy platform.

Patassé survived several coup attempts with the backing of the French and rebels from Congo. However in 2003, as the French appeared to switch sides, he was deposed and a General – François Bozizé – seized power. His support comes mostly from Gbaya groups and northerners in general – who received government jobs in return. Most Muslim groups used to support Bozizé but switched in 2005 when he didn’t provide the promised jobs and now many Muslim groups support the rebel UFDR.

Bozizé held elections in 2005 which Patassé was not permitted to participate in. Bozizé won at the second round and the non-partisans in Parliament who supported him subsequently formed their own political party: the KNK. Bozizé has always officially run as an independent, but in practice the KNK is his party. The KNK has adopted a broadly centre left political platform.

No elections were held between the coup and these elections on Sunday. As a result there have been a number of military insurrections – some have been politically motivated, others are driven by warlords with an eye for the main chance.Areas of the north west are in the hands of a rebel group loyal to Patassé known as the APRD. Areas of the north east are controlled by the Muslim based UFDR. Further areas of the north east are controlled by a rebel group known as the FDPC; they used to be loyal to Bozizé but went rogue. Further rebel groups include the MLCJ and the CPJP. Some of these groups are thought to have links to Congolese rebel groups and some to rebel groups in Darfur – although it is not entirely clear who supports who.

Meanwhile areas in the east of the country have been taken over by the fight between the Ugandan army and the Ugandan rebel force – the Lords Resistance Army – which has spilled over multiple national boundaries. [In other words the situation is deeply confused with the impact of the Sudan-Uganda-Chad proxy war, of which more here and here]

In 2009 peace talks and a UN peace mission led to a unity government with Bozizé as Pesident and a new Prime Minister: Faustin-Archange Touadéra. By 2010 all groups had accepted the arrangements except the small CPJP. Even so elections were delayed several times [but will now finally happen this Sunday]

They look set to be interesting: Bozizé and the KNK are the dominant political force but the MLPC should be competitive. They are looking to move beyond Patassé and have picked, as their presidential candidate, Martin Ziguélé. Meanwhile Patassé will be contesting the elections as an independent. The winner is likely to be one of these three – and it is likely parliament will elect predominately non-partizan’s, MLPC and KNK members. A potential forth force is that of André Kolingba’s Central African Democratic Rally. Kolingba was CAR’s last dictator before ’93 and oversaw the country’s transition to democracy.

[Here are the results from last time]. In that Presidential election Bozizé beat Ziguélé, Kolingba and a number of others by 43% to 24%, 17% and less than 5% each in the first round. In the second round Bozizé beat Ziguélé 65% to 35%

To Parliament were elected 42 members of the KNK, 34 non partisans, 11 members of the MLPC and 8 members of the CLDR. Minor parties picked up nine seats: the Social Democrats (pro Patassé centre left) 4, the Patriotic Front for Progress (socialist) 2, the Alliance for Democracy and Progress (vehicle for the former sports minister) 2, the Löndö Association (ethnically based) 1.

CAR parties

I wrote that a few months ago, and my aspiration that the elections be competitive seems not to have stood the test of time. Zinguele has pulled out. Jean-Jacques Demafouth of the APRD launched a spirited campaign but then too pulled out. So that just leaves Bozize and Patasse (and Gros Raymond Nakombo – a Kolingba loyalist), and I would be surprised if Patasse was competitive. That said, Demafouth and Zinguele remain on the ballots, prompting speculation that they have not entirely pulled out but merely threatened to do so (or even that news of their pulling out is deliberate misinformation spread by Chinese newspapers at Bozize’s request) and so the situation is far from clear cut. As for the elections to parliament, it is not at all clear that these will go ahead at all.

And just to make things even more interesting the trial for war crimes of Congolese  MLC leader Jean-Pierre Bemba in the Hague has just entered the stage of hearing the evidence pertaining to war crimes committed by Bemba’s troups in the CAR in support of Bozize.

If you speak French you might enjoy this polished performance by Nakombo on French TV:

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