Some much more interesting elections

November 4, 2010 § Leave a comment

So whilst a fairly predictable election unfolded in the USA, three elections were being counted in Africa.

Niger backed its new constitution by 90% of the vote on a 52% turnout. That’s quite low and suggests that the suggested boycott by religious groups unhappy with the newly entranced separation of church and state had some impact. However, as far as we can tell, Niger is making healthy strides towards democracy. Here’s the background.

Tanzania’s election was the most competitive yet, but the ruling CCM still held on easily. With 183 ( of 239) constituencies reporting in the results of the Presidential election, the CCM candidate is ahead in 143 of the constituencies counted so far, with the centre-left CUF ahead in 20 and the centre-right CHADEMA ahead in just seven. There’s never been a runoff in Tanzanian history, and whilst it remains on the cards, no one is banking on it.

Meanwhile there’s not yet much clarity on the Parliamentary results but it appears that the CCM are down about 50 seats, losing 22 (or almost half) on Zanzibar (mostly to the CUF) and 28 on the mainland (mostly to CHADEMA). This makes it roughly (and these numbers will change):

CCM 156

CUF 41

CHADEMA 33

Others 2

The election for the government in  Zanzibar went to the wire, the CCM beating the CUF by just 400 votes (0.1%). And history was made when Salum Khalfani Bar’wani won the Lindi Town constituency for CHADEMA and became Tanzania’s first ever Albino MP. Albinos had traditionally been subjected to fairly horrific discrimination.

Whilst the CCM still held on this was an important election, almost a sea change in Tanzanian politics. Elections are now competitive and Tanzania can no longer be said to be a one party state. Now, will the CCM throw their toys out of the pram and crack down hard on opposition (there are already rumours that the police improperly interfered in some areas) or is this the beginning of a pluralist Tanzania?

There is more background here.

Meanwhile in the Cote d’Ivoire may even have a change of government. As we discussed before, these elections are taking place in a deeply divided society (the north and south hate each other and have just fought a protracted civil war), and are five years late . It was expected that president Gbagbo would win easily, although he may just being forced into a run-off. Far from it, the results were:

Gbangbo (south): 36.9%

Outarra (north): 33.4%

Bedie (south): 27.5%

With Bedie’s supporters vehemently opposed to Gbagbo and having a kind of alliance already with Outarra, we look set to have a winner from, and with the backing of, the rebel north in the second round on the 28th of November. However, it appears (and we’ll have to wait for the full result before we can see if this is true) that Outarra did so well by stretching out to people in the south – and its true you can’t get 32% of the vote just from the rebel held areas (the areas in question are too sparsely populated, and much of the population are considered foreigners by the Government and denied the right to vote).

This means on the one hand that if Outarra wins he could be the genuinely pluralist leader the Cote d’Ivoire needs (but lets not deify him just yet, he has served as Prime Minister before and is therefore not completely innocent of the partisanship that led to civil war). However on the other hand it might mean he has already peaked, and that those in the south who would have been willing to vote for a northerner of any sort have already done so.

Meanwhile in the rush to count the presidential result, the parliamentary results are lagging behind. something which has raised concerns amongst EU election monitors. But it looks like we could be set for a hung parliament with Outarra’s Republicans sweeping the north, Bedie’s Democrats the east and Gbagbo’s Popular Front the south.

Very interesting indeed.

And then there were five

November 1, 2010 § 2 Comments

There was a  fifth election held over the weekend which, as it wasn’t listed in any of the usual places, almost passed me by. That is not to say it isn’t important. Indeed it is arguably the most important of the lot. Tanzania held elections to its legislative, to its presidency, to local government, and to the government of the semi-autonomous island of Zanzibar.

Tanzanian politics has traditionally been dominated by the left wing CCM, the party of the famous first President of Tanzania Julius Nyerere. Indeed the CCM has never been out of power. Fraud and intimidation have been alleged in the past but these elections are thought to have been the freest yet – and not surprisingly therefore are also proving the most competitive yet.

The two main rivals to the CCM are the conservative CHADEMA and the liberal CUF. Election results for some of the 232 seats elected by first-past-the-post have started to come in already but it is likely that it will be mid week before we have a complete picture and results for the presidency.

It is expected that the CCM’s presidential candidate, the incumbent Jakaya Kikwete, will win – but with a considerably reduced majority. The CCM will probably also win a majority in the legislative, but it could potentially be close. CHADEMA have picked up several seats already, inducing the election of Vincent Nyerere, Julius’ nephew, on a CHADEMA ticket. They also claim to be neck a neck in many of the other seats in which counting has nearly been completed. Hip Hop artists Sugu:

and Nakaaya:

also ran for CHADEMA and it has been tweeted that one of them at least has already won.

Meanwhile the CUF are still convinced they will at least remain the second largest party – and look set to run the CCM close in Zanzibar.

Basically it’s all going to be a bit confusing for a few days so I’m going to wait a while until we have the actual results. All of them. In the meantime expect all three parties to claim victory.

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