Sweet Mickey

April 5, 2011 § Leave a comment

And it was Martelly, winning Haiti 68% to Maignat’s 32%. So that is that.

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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.

Guiseley 0 Worcester City 1

March 22, 2011 § Leave a comment

Danny Glover made it 18 goals for the season as Worcester City earned a vital victory at Guiseley. I’m amazed he found the time. Still his recent trip to Haiti is going better than Wycliffe Jean’s; it is still not entirely clear whether or not Jean was shot in the hand but he certainly hasn’t had that welcoming a reception.

However whilst things might be going well for Glover and poorly for Jean on that front, the fortunes of the candidates that they are in Haiti to support are exactly reversed. It is still not clear what Glover’s man – Aristide – is here for, and whilst much has been written about the “hope” Aristide’s return has brought, there doesn’t seem to be anything resembling a plan, or even the beginnings of a plan.

Meanwhile Jean’s candidate, Michel “Sweet Micky” Martelly, looks set to become the next President of Haiti, although full results and parliamentary results won’t be known for some time.

 

Wycliffe Jean and Michael Sweet Mickey Martelly Haiti

Wycliffe (left) and Sweet Mickey (right)

Meanwhile Benin surprised me by confirming that the first round result ensured the re-election of Bon Yaji without the need for a second round. The full result was

Yayi Boni – 1,333,153 – 53.18%

Adrien Houngbédji – Democratic Renewal Party – 893,976 – 35.66%

Abdoulaye Bio-Tchané  – 157,642  – 6.29 %

And everyone else, less than 1%.

This article has some helpful background.

And you can find more information on both these elections by hitting the button on your left and scrolling down.

Thou shalt not judge a book by its cover, thou shalt not judge President Aristide by Danny Glover

March 17, 2011 § Leave a comment

Danny Glover, yes Danny Glover, is going to escort the Rev. President Jean-Bertrand Aristide back to Haiti. This is going to be quite the buddy movie:

Scene 1

Aristide: You want me to drive?

Glover: No, you’re supposed to be suicidal, remember? I’LL drive.

Aristide: Anybody who drives around in this town IS suicidal

Scene 2:

Glover: Have you ever met anybody you didn’t kill?

Aristide: Well, I haven’t killed you yet.

Scene 3

Aristide: You don’t trust me at all, do you?

Glover: Well, I’ll tell you what. You make it through tomorrow without killing anybody, especially me, or yourself, then I’ll start trusting you.

Aristide: Fair enough.

Scene 4

Glover: Hey, Aristide, you really like my wife’s cooking?

Aristide: No

Final Scene

Glover: I am too old for this shit

Danny Glover and President Aristide in Haiti

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:

MPS/RDP: 27

MPs/VIVA/RNDP: 14

MPS/VIVA/RDP: 4

MPS/VIVA: 3

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

UNDR: 9

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:

UNDR-PLD: 1

URD: 8

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

RNDT: 6

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

FAR-PF: 4

A southern, pro-federal state party

And then we get into the really tiny local parties:

CTPD: 2

PDSA: 2

UDR: 2

AND: 1

AND/R: 1

ART/CNDS: 1

MPDT: 1

MPTR: 1

PAP-JS: 1

PDI-RPT: 1

PLD-UNDR: 1

PPJE-ART-CNDS: 1

PUR: 1

RAPAD: 1

SONOR: 1

UDT: 1

UET-V: 1

UFD-PR: 1

USND: 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.

Niger

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.

Wave upon wave of demented avengers, march cheerfully out of obscurity into the dream

January 17, 2011 § 5 Comments

I’ve missed quite a week.

The Sudanese election went as smoothly as could be hoped and, although it’ll take a long time to count up the results it seems we are on track for partition. A lot of people will have their hearts in their mouth for a while yet.

The Haitian election was postponed due to continued wrangling over who should advance into the second round. The OAS observation team have suggested that when all dubious ballots are removed there is only 0.3% between the second and third candidates, and that they would support Martelly’s inclusion rather than Célestin’s (see past Haiti posts). We still have no date for a second round. And to make things more exciting, former dictator Jean-Claude “baby doc” Duvallier ended his self imposed exile and arrived back in Haiti yesterday to general exclamations of “what the?”, “why?” and “what’s his game?”

And then there was Tunisia.

Hannibal

Tunisia, or Carthage, home of the other Hannibal of whom I don't have a photo.

By now most of you will have read quite a lot about it so I’ll be brief and to the point. What happened and three small observations.

What happened?

Tunisia copied a pattern which will be familiar to citizens of many countries and moved in the 50s from colonial rule to dictatorship and in the 90s from outright dictatorship to nominal democracy but with one party totally dominant. That party is the RCD, formally left wing but effectively simply a “kings party”, the party of power, the party of government, the party of the army. Since seizing power in a palace coup in 1987 the leader of the RCD and Tunisia has been Zinedine Ben Ali.

There had been mounting unrest over totalitarianism and economic failings in Tunisia for some time. On the 17th of December there was widespread rioting and Mohamed Bouazizi, a vegetable seller, set fire to himself after being prevented from working by the authorities’ refusal to grant him a licence. The police and Ben Ali, at first came down hard on the demonstrators killing several. However this led to those who died becoming martyrs and to a series of copycat protest-suicides. Realising the situation was rapidly spiralling out of control Ben Ali changed tack, promised economic and social reforms, to stand down in three years time, and even visited Bouazizi just before he died in hospital on Jan 4th. However by then it was too late and the situation descended into bloody violence with the forces of the state and the public at loggerheads.

Seeing the writing on the wall Ben Ali fled on Jan 14th, abdicating the presidency and thus triggering a presidential election within the next 60 days. The next 24 hours were chaotic with 3 different heads of state: firstly it was not clear at what point Ben Ali ceded the presidency, then Prime Minister Mohammed Ghannouchi briefly stepped up to the plate, before turning power in a matter of hours over to the speaker of the upper house Fouad Mebazaa.

The situation is far from over. Ben Ali loyalists are still trading gunfire with members of the public and the armed forces, who have by no means all changed sides – although the arrest of prominent Ben Ali supporters suggests that the government is trying to make a clean break with Ben Ali lest they too become infected. And this is the crux of the issue: the protests were not just about Ben Ali’s rule – they were about the RCD in general. And the RCD are as entrenched as ever. All the faces of the new government who are so keen to suggest that they are the new, modern, face of Tunisia are RCD men through and through; and were Ben Ali loyalists until last week.

So the next elections will be key. Will it be the same old RCD landslide and if so will the public accept that, and if they do will the RCD genuinely change, continue as before with a  different front-man, or even pave the way for bringing back Ben Ali a la FR Congo? Or if there is to be a new face how will they get organised within the next mere 60 days?

3 brief observations.

As Jane Kinninmont from the Economist Intelligence Unit said, it is “fascinating that the Arab world’s first popular revolution in 50 years was not carried out by Islamists.” Personally I find it even more fascinating that one would have assumed it would have been. The USA has utterly brought the line that the Arab world faces a choice between dictatorships that merely abuse human rights a little and and democracy which would be a fast road to rule by Taliban-like groups. Tunisia shows what a load of rubbish that was from the beginning.

For one thing Islamism is strengthened by dictatorship in that it provides and alternative to an unpopular government, so by supporting the dictator you strengthen Islamism not weaken it. But also Islamism is by no means an automatic choice of those who reject dictatorship; nor is it necessarily even the strongest political motivating force in Arabic countries – as Tunisia shows. Issues of sustenance come first; when they are championed by Islamists (Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood) they do well, but they can equally have other champions (Jordan’s quasi-liberal Islamic Action Front, the OACL in 1980s Lebanon, or the continuing Palestinian socialist movement) it’s just a question of who steps up to the plate.

Secondly everybody has written the subject of the role of social media in the revolution to death. However it is not without reason.

 

Anonymous

Schoolchildren in Tunisia wearing Guy Fawkes masks in the fashion of Anonymous

Facebook, Twitter and Youtube did play a large part in orchestrating the demonstrations, some people give Wikileaks some credit, and Anonymous repeated the kind of supporting attacks they took part in during Iran’s green revolution. It certainly played a part, and certainly in the post-wikileaks, post-internet era it is becoming increasingly harder to sell a lie to your ever more informed public.

In 2007 Yerkes National Primate Research Center (sic) conducted an interesting experiment on Capuchin Monkeys. Two monkeys did tricks in exchange for cucumbers perfectly happily. They then did the same trick in separate cages from which they couldn’t see each other and one monkey was given a cucumber for performing the trick and one monkey grapes. Then the partition was removed and the two monkeys were able to see each other. Upon realising that the one monkey was getting grapes for a task in which he received a mere cucumber, the second monkey threw a fit and went on strike. It’s a fairly obvious experiment but quite a nice metaphor. The internet removes our partition: makes it harder for those of us with grapes to hide or justify our grapes to those of us with cucumbers.

Ok fair enough, and you can read a thousand other articles that say the same thing on any major news site (but mine has monkeys). But I think it is worth pointing out that this isn’t really anything new. The Green Revolution in Iran really was special (albeit it didn’t quite come off) and even before then there were internet and social media aspects to uprisings in Serbia, the Ukraine, and Georgia. As the scale of social media grows and information becomes ever harder to control then yes dictators will struggle to justify their existence. But those who suggest that Tunisia is the first domino to fall should remember there are still more internet connections in Manhattan that the whole of Africa, and that it is going to take a while before there are enough tweeters in Chad to take down Idriss Deby.

Of more interest to me is the demographic aspect. Like most revolutions this was a revolution of the young – the young have less to lose. But 27% of the population of Tunisia is between the ages of 15 and 25, and that is not an atypical distribution for the region. There are now over a billion 12-18 year olds on the planet and 90% of them living in the developing world.

Thank you BBC

That is a lot of potential revolutionaries. Even without web 2.0 and all the rest of it this could be a very bumpy decade, but with any luck we’ll come out of it with fewer dictators than we went in. Bliss it was that dawn I guess.

Haiti

January 6, 2011 § 2 Comments

Sorry, I couldn’t think of a better title. Nor I’m afraid is there much to say but I thought I should put this up because in theory the election could happen before I get back – on Jan 16th. I say in theory because, as I mentioned here, we have not emerged from the controversy of round one yet. The formal results haven’t been announced yet, and with that in mind the election commission may well postpone the elections for a month.

If it doesn’t then you can read more about the candidates here, the study I link to at the bottom is particularly good.

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