Hanging Chads two

March 30, 2011 § 1 Comment

And here is part two which Think Africa Were good enough to publish in its entirety. Here is a version I did earlier which had links to the google map which I thought was a nice touch in that you could see where the places discussed were (but please also check out the Think Africa version as well, they’ve done the graphics really nicely and have some fantastic coverage of other issues in African Politics).

Issues in the Chad elections

To understand what is happening, it is necessary to understand type of electoral system in operation in Chad. 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). For simplicity I am treating the MPS and allies as one for the purposes of this analysis.

The first issues arise on the question of turnout. Turnout was given as 56.6% and the figures relating to the numbers of votes cast do give this turnout figure if one takes the Chad Electoral Commission’s (CNEI)  statement of figures for registered voters which the CNEI’s statement appears to do.

However this then raises several problems. For a start the figures don’t add up: adding the totals for each constituency gives a figure precisely 15,000 short of the published total. Moreover the statement of election results gives totally different figures for registered voters – listing some 570,881 registered voters fewer than the official figure. Moreover this is a far from blanket disparity: Dababa and Dagana have lost over 51,000 (55%) and over 49,000 (68%) of voters respectively between the statement of voters registered and statement of results, whilst Lac Lere has gained over 71,000 voters (77%).

It is not clear what the reason for the discrepancy is, or which is the correct figure. The fact that the former figure is the basis for turnout suggests the former whilst the fact that it is the latter that appears on the statement of election results suggests the latter. Yet whichever figure is correct, and whatever the reason for this disparity, there are further questions to be asked about the turnout.

If we accept the statement of electoral results as being at least internally consistent, and take their figures for registered voters, then that suggests improbably high turnout in a number of constituencies. In Bahr Sara and Dar-Tama more votes were cast than there were voters in the constituency, whilst in Kobe 99.8% of people voted (implying only 54 people in the entire constituency did not). This also gives turnout figures in the 90s for a further 8 seats. Dar-Tama and Kobe were uncontested seats, so high turnout is unlikely but an error would not benefit any side directly. However Bahr Sara is a seat in which the MPS won after the URD missed out on a seat by 2.5% of the vote on an apparent 105% turnout.

Conversely, if we were to accept the statement of registered voters as the correct figure then different questions arise in different constituencies. Votes in most constituencies now occupy a more normal distribution (although turnout in three safe MPS seats drops to sub 30%) but at the high end there are some puzzling results. Two seats (both of them uncontested MPS) post turnout in the 90s and one (also uncontested MPS) posts turnout of slightly over 100%. But the real problems arise in La Nya Pende and Lac Lere. In La Nya Pende the MPS picked up two seats by just 4.5% of the vote on what was seemingly a 113% turnout. In Lace Lere (where the UNDR won all three seats by just 3% of the vote) turnout was a credibility shattering 161% of registered voters.

We then move on to look at spoiled ballots. Spoiled ballots are a fact of life, and in a country with a literacy rate of 25% one would expect there to be many. Indeed there are – 13.9% of votes cast. However what is interesting is that the number of spoiled ballots is far less even than one would expect. In three constituencies less than 2% of votes were spoilt and in 15 spoiled ballot rates were below 5% whilst in Tandjile est, where the MPS topped the poll with 38% of the vote a full 38% of ballots were spoilt, and there were 10 seats where the number of spoilt ballots was over 20%.

This extreme level of variation is unusual but possibly partly explicable: the seats with low rates of spoilt ballots are all either safe MPS constituencies or uncontested seats; this makes a certain amount sense, it is much less probable that a ballot will be spoilt in an uncontested election, and in a safe seat ballots are less likely to be challenged. In contrast Tanjile est is a marginal seat with fifteen different parties vying for the vote, and in the ten seats where spoilt ballot rates were unusually high there were considerably more parties  standing for election (an average of 12.8) than was usual (average of 6.8). Nevertheless one does have to question what sort of a mandate one can claim in a seat where more ballots are spoilt than are cast for any party.

Then we look at the actual results themselves. The problem is clear from the very first result on the CNEI’s website where it is announced that the MPS have won the seat of Bahr El Gazal Nord with 105.67% of the vote.

The number of votes cast hardly ever adds up to 100% (indeed another surprising thing about the results in Chad is that in six constituencies they actually do add up to exactly 100%, as these are all in either very close or totally uncontested constituencies it is possible that this is due to either exhaustive recounts or to the official just writing the convenient figure in). Voters can walk out of the booth without lasting their ballots, the occasional vote can get lost and the occasional vote can get counted twice. A handful of miscounted ballots is not the end of the world, but when the number gets into hundreds, or thousands, then there is cause for concern. Indeed in the UK 66 extra votes in a safe seat once caused quite a stir.

In Chad, by the election commission’s own figures, there were 11 seats where more than 2% of the vote went missing, and in the worst cases, Arrondisment N’djamena 5eme and Dar Tama, 5.6% (1145 votes) and 4% (1716 votes) of the vote went missing. Worse still there were 37 seats where there was more than 2% more of the vote than there should have been, and in seven constituencies it was more than 10%. In the worst case, Arrondisment N’djamena 10eme, there was a full 15.2% (3329 votes) more votes counted than were cast.

In ten cases this could have influenced the result:

Constituency Winning party and how Margin of victory Disparity votes cast to votes counted
Gueni MPS over 50% 0.8% 2.1%
Batha Ouest MPS over 50% 2.3% 4%
Haraze al Biar MPS over 50% 3% 4.2%
Abtouyour MPS over 50% 5% 5.9%
Barh Azoum MPS over 50% 6.2% 7.8%
Baguirmi MPS over 50% 6.8% 9.3%
Mayo – Leimi URD (MPS short on 2nd seat as under 50%) -6.6% 10.8%
Arrondisment N’djamena 1ier MPS over 50% 1.1% 12%
Arrondisment N’djamena 4eme MPS over 50% 1.37% 12.3%
Arrondisment N’djamena 10eme MPS over 50% 10.8% 15.2%


Even more concerning is the fact that the given percentages for votes cast in each seat do not actually match the percentages one arrives at when calculating the percentages from the data itself. Checking the number of votes cast for each political party does give the same answers as those provided by the electoral commission, but the totals in each seat add up to radically different percentages to those given. An exhaustive survey of potential methodological differences does not throw up any potential explanations for where CENI’s figures came from.

Calculating one’s own percentages directly from the given figures gives a greater number of seats (37 as opposed to 23) where the numbers of votes cast is within broadly acceptable (2%) limits of the number counted but also greater extremes of missing votes.

There is now one constituency,  Arrondisment N’djamena 9eme, where nearly 20% (18.5% or 9238 votes) of votes are missing and another, Lac Lere (once again), where over 10% (10.5% or an incredible 25,170 votes) are missing. There are, admittedly only now three constituencies where there was more than 10% more votes counted than were cast. Arrondisment N’djamena 3eme is now the most overvoting constituency with 16.4% (641 votes, it’s a small constituency with low turnout) more votes counted than were cast.

In eleven cases this could have influenced the result, changing thirteen seats:

Constituency Benefiting party and how Margin of victory Disparity votes cast to votes counted
Arrondisment N’djamena 9eme UNDR (MPS short on 2nd seat as under 50%) 12.3% 18.5%
Lac Lere UNDR over 50% 3% 10.5%
Baguirmi MPS over 50% 6.8% 9.3%
Batha Ouest MPS over 50% 2.3% 6%
Lac Iro MPS over 50% 3.2% 4.1%
Mando Oriental MPS over 50% 1.1% 4.1%
Guera MPS (PDSA short on 2nd seat as under 50%) 1.5% 1.9%
Kimiti MPSx3 over 50% (with five seats allocated, MPS would have only won 2 if under 50%) 0.8% 3%
Gueni MPS over 50% 0.8% 3.9%
Mayo-Lemie URD (MPS short on 2nd seat as under 50%) 6.6% 9.8%
Arrondisment N’djamena 9eme MPS over 50% 1.4% 13.3%

In conclusion therefore 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, and the opposition up to three.

These last figures are interesting. If these anomalies were down to random chance we would expect them to affect all parties equally. As the MPS and allies won 71% of the seats, we would expect 71% of the seats this throws into question to be MPS seats. Yet 19 of the 22 seats in question are MPS. Whilst this does not prove electoral fraud it does suggest a worrying trend of puzzling anomalies which systematically benefit the MPS.



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 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








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
RAPAD 1     1
SONOR 1     1
UDT 1     1
UET-V 1     1
UFD-PR 1     1
USND 1     1


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.

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.

Now’s the time to look and look again at what you see, Is that the way it ought to stay?

December 8, 2010 § 3 Comments

I’ve now put up the results to most of the elections in the comments to my last round up article but I’ll briefly canter through them anyway. The exception is the Ivory Coast which I already talked about here (along with details of some elections we missed) and to which there is not much to add except that it is still very tense and, unless there is another side to this story that we are not getting, that Laurent Gbagbo is an evil little wimp who sadly will soon very probably have blood on his hands. I normally don’t cover regional elections so I’m not going to go into Catalonia, but World Elections have a very good piece here. And since I’m listing recent pieces, if any of you are looking for Christmas presents for political nerds, I have written a guide to what I’ve enjoyed reading this year – and might make a good gift – here.

So Egypt. Final results from round two are not expected until Wednesday but we know what is going to happen already. Traditionally Mubarak’s ruling NDP does deals with some of the “softer” opposition parties allowing them to win some seats for the sake of form. However this time round the NDP set out to win every seat. Moreover the banned Muslim Brotherhood normally win a  fair few seats by running candidates as independents – this time the government was much sharper at finding who had links to the MB and disqualifying them. They also seemed to operate an “if in doubt, disqualify” policy.

The result is that on the first round the NDP won 170 seats outright, the liberal Wafd Party 3, independent opposition candidates 3 and the Muslim Brotherhood 0. Violence and intimidation was stepped up to such a level that both Wafd and the surviving Muslim Brotherhood candidates pulled out of the second round of voting, leaving the NDP to fight almost all of the remaining 268 seats uncontested. As a result the NDP are guaranteed a minimum of 97% of the seats in parliament. This is a pyrrhic victory for Mubarak, as it will just result in his many opponents abandoning the democratic process and embracing violent opposition.

Haitian elections were utterly chaotic (largely as a result of the Cholera outbreak) but, touch wood, they were reasonably democratic – and overseas observers don’t want them annulled. However “reasonably” is the operative word here. There is no doubt that there will be a second round runoff and that Mirlande Manigat (the wife of former President Leslie Manigat – who won a military backed election in 1987 on a 10% turnout) will be in it having topped the poll with around 31% of the vote.

What is in doubt is who will be the second candidate. Former crooner Michel “Sweet Mickey” Martelly (who achieved fame performing concerts naked, wearing dresses, and wearing nappies) was thought to be well in the lead of the government and former president Preval backed candidate: Jude Celestin. However, after many reports of irregularities and attempted rigging in Celestin’s favour, the election commission controversially announced that Celestin had narrowly beaten Martelly 21% to 20% and it would be Celestin in the runoff. Martelly has announced that he is going to appeal and the courts will mull over what to do in the next few weeks.

Meanwhile Celestin’s Unite party look set to win a clear majority in parliament – having won 9 of the 11 seats so far announced.

The Cook Islands had perhaps the most straightforward election. The nationalist Cook Islands party won 15, the centre left Democrats won 8, and one seat – Pukapuka-Nassau- will be run again after returning this, frankly redicolous, result:

CIP Tekii Lazaro 73

DP Tai Ravarua 73

Independent Vai Peua 72

Vai Peura is the former CIP MP who left the CIP and ran in the DP primary and lost and so decided to run as an independent. Since there’s never been a tie before the courts now have to decide whether to order a runoff between the top two or a complete rerun. Never let it be said that one vote never made a difference.

The referendum was passed by 75% of voters, and the Cook Islands parliament will be significantly reduced in size before the next election.

The Madagascan referendum ended up almost becoming an aside to its own story. We eventually found out that the new constitution was approved by 75% of the vote on a 53% turnout. However events were overshadowed when opposition supporters and sections of the army launched something on the day of the poll (depending who you ask it was either a revolution, a coup, a riot or a mutiny in the army). Whatever it was meant to be it didn’t work but they did seize a barracks and the better part of a military base, in which they held out for the better part of a week before being overwhelmed by the Army.

Comaoré won the Burkina Faso election as expected with 80% of the vote on the first round. Turnout was 55%, his supporters had being fearing it would be worse.

The Tongan elections confirmed handover of power to democratic forces. The Democratic Party of the Friendly Islands won 12 of the 17 seats up for election, the other five were taken by independents, enough of whom favour democratic rule to mean that, for the first time ever, monarchist forces do not have a majority for the first time ever  despite the appointment of nine monarchist chiefs to Parliament. The king has announced that he accepts the result and will from now on have a purely ceremonial role.

Chad meanwhile decided there “hadn’t been sufficient time to prepare” for elections, and postponed them until March 2011.

For all we could have done; And all that could have been

November 17, 2010 § 19 Comments

Firstly an apology. Lots on my plate recently, and so the frenetic pace this blog started at has dipped a little of late. Also Chad, Chile and China are all really complicated and so it’s taking ages.

In the meantime we’ve had two elections (not four) and we have eight elections in the next ten days. Burma and  Jordan have been. The Cook Islands, Egypt, Madagascar, Cote D’ivoire, Burkina Faso, Tonga, Haiti and Chad to come. Click on the tags on the right for links to articles I’ve written previously on the background to some of these elections (Burma, Jordan, Egypt, Haiti, Cote d’Ivoire).

So let’s dive in.

Burma was perhaps the most predictable. Elections sadly didn’t even live up to the low expectations of the international community with intimidation, bribery, fraud and gerrymandering rife. In actual fact it is hard to tell how fair elections were – or indeed anything about them at all – as there is no independent coverage. India and China ratified the elections as being free and fair but this had more to do with diplomacy than fact.

The results were a predictable landslide for the pro Junta USDP (National Unity clearly not being the preferred pro-junta party this time). Results have only been released in dribs and drabs: of the 219 (from 330) seats announced thus far in the lower house the USDP has 190; of the 107 (from 168) seats announced thus far in the upper house, the USDP has won 95. Most of the rest seem to have gone to independents or to National Unity. The Democratic Party said it had won only 5 seats in total, and that most of them were in regional assemblies and the National Democratic Force only 16 – again most of them in regional assemblies rather than the federal parliament.

With superb timing for maximum distraction the junta then released Aung San Suu Kyi. Whilst the outside world (apart from regional allies) didn’t really buy their “we have free elections and we’ve let her go – what more do you want?” shtick, it did draw coverage away from the election results. That said, her release can only be a positive thing if it allows her to give more interviews like this:

At the risk of sounding fawning it is an absolutely spellbinding tour-de-force of an interview. She combines the quiet, powerful, dignity of Edward Murrow with the genius for positioning of Karl Rove – and then ads little sprinkles of MLK style rhetoric for the centuries.

She says nothing which, no matter how out of context it is taken, could give the junta an iota of an excuse to brand her seditious or a threat. Yet a threat to them she clearly is, as her every sentence drips with the logic of the impossibility of their position. She even gives the junta a face-saving route out. It’s just stunning, it really is.

Sadly the grip of the junta remains as tight as ever and – as always happens when democracy fails to deliver – there is now a violent insurrection in full swing with the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army having apparently changed sides once again and are now violently opposing the state. Given the total information blackout we don’t really know what’s going on: some of the more hysterical media reports of all out civil war seem highly far fetched, but the official contention that nothing is happening cannot be believed either.

As well as the tags to the right, there is more background on my Burma page

Jordan’s elections provided the planned walkover for “non partisans”. The Muslim Brotherhood decided at the last minute to boycott the elections — so badly were they going – and as a result turnout was low: around 50%. Only 2 seats went to political parties. The leftist Hashed party won one of the seats reserved for women by being the highest placed female loser and Wafa Bani Mustafa (loosely affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood) defied the boycott and likewise won a seat for women. For the first time ever a women (Reem Badran, the daughter of the former Prime Minister) won a seat outright – meaning there are now 13 women in the Jordanian Parliament.

Again failures in the system led to violence on the streets although it appears there were no deaths. The royal family have so far been quiet on the elections, preferring to watch Barca in the Nou Camp:


Egypt’s elections have been moved to the 28th – or maybe they always were on the 28th. I’m not entirely clear. Anyway everything I said when I thought they were on the 10th remains the case (access through tag on the right).

Similarly Haitian elections are now happening on the 28th despite the cholera outbreak. I’m sure the first round of the presidential was supposed to be on the 10th but that is now on the 28th too (again you can access the preview through the tag on the right). One latest poll has Charles Baker on 24%, Mirlande Maigat on 18% and Jeune Leon (who?) on 15%. Another has Célestin on 30% with Maigat on second with 21%. I think its fair to say that no-one knows what’s going on.

The Cook Islands (a dependency of New Zealand) are having parliamentary elections and a referendum today (the 17th). The result should be tight between the liberal Democratic Party and the nationalist Cook Islands Party. However, as elections are under first past the post and there are only 24 seats, small wins can produce big majorities.

The referendum is to further reduce the number of seats as – even with only 24 members – the legislative is thought to be unwieldy. If 66% vote yes, then the government will set up a committee to decide how large a reduction to make. It is thought 75% of the population are in favour.

Madagascar is also having a referendum today. It doesn’t sound that contentious, but it is. The referendum is to decide whether to lower the minimum age at which one could be president from 40 to 35. The reason this matters is that a former DJ  – Andry Rajoelina, 36 and Africa’s youngest head of state – seized power in a coup last year and so this measure, if passed, could be taken to legitimise his rule and could allow him to run in the next elections. It will certainly further deepen Madagascar’s constitutional crisis if it fails – and for this reason will probably succeed. Meanwhile Presidential elections (due on the 26th) have now been postponed to May 4th of 2011

Burkina Faso has the first round of its presidential elections on the 21st. As I discussed on the Burkina Faso page, Compaoré will almost certainly win on the first round. The constitutional courts could intervene and point out that he has wildly exceeded his term limit – but they won’t

Tonga has parliamentary elections on the 25th. It is the first time elections will be held under first past the post (top up PR having previously being used) and it is the first time the number of elected seats will be substantial (17 of 26 seats will be elected, as opposed to 7 of 30). The other nine are elected by the hereditary nobles or chiefs. This should mark the end of Tonga’s rocky road towards democracy: a series of constitutional crises throughout the decade have moved Tonga from an almost absolute monarchy to an almost powerless monarchy in a democratic state.

It is thought that for the first time, reformist pro democracy groups such as the Human Rights and Democracy Movement and its splinters the Democratic Party of the Friendly Islands and the Peoples Democratic Party, will win an outright majority. In the past traditionalist independents and nobles loyal to the ling have always held power – largely through their monopoly of the unelected seats. That said, the HRDM already hold the Prime Minister-ship as a result of riots in 2008.

The rape law is proving another major issue, as this election broadcast shows:

The Cote d’Ivoire will have its very exiting second round election on the 28th. No one really knows what’s going to happen but I expect rebel backed northerner Outarra to beat president Gbagbo. It’s well worth reading about the elections. World elections has a piece, and I’ve written about it three times (access through the tag on the right).

And finally Chad has the first round of its parliamentary elections on the 28th. That means 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, which could well win the prize for the world’s most fooked country, 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, I hope there won’t be any hanging Chads (boom boom).

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