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.

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).

President:

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%

Parliament:

KNK: 26

Ind: 8

MPLC: 1

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

UPC 9

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

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