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


Uganda results

February 21, 2011 § 1 Comment

I haven’t seen these collated anywhere yet so I thought I’d do it myself


Candidate Party votes Percentage
Yoweri K Museveni NRM 5,428,368 68.38%
Besigye Kizza Kifefe Forum for Democratic Change 2,064,963 26.01%
Mao Norbert Democratic Party 147,917 1.86%
Olara Otunnu UPC 125,059 1.58%
Beti Olive Namisango Kamya Uganda Federal Allaince 52,782 0.66%
Abed Bwanika People’s Development Party 51,708 0.65%
Bidandi Ssali Jaberi Progressive Peoples Party 34,688 0.44%
Samuel Lubega Walter Mukaaku Independent 32,726 0.41%


NRM 146

FDC 29

Ind 28

UPC 12

Democratic Party 9

Conservative Party 1

Justice Forum 1

Still to declare 149

More results as they come in are available here – as are maps which show that the FDC weren’t really able to break out of Nilotic areas.

Wherein I gander at Uganda

February 17, 2011 § 3 Comments

Uganda has elections tomorrow, if you’re wondering why I haven’t previewed them yet it is because I was doing so for Think Africa and I didn’t want to scoop my own piece. They wanted something quite short, but here just for you, is the longer version:

Uganda election

It is a big year for elections in Africa. We’ve already had the partition of the continent’s largest country, a big – and so far successful – test for the new democracy in Niger, and a less successful election in Chad (but having one at all was quite an achievement, there not having been one for nine years). Coming up we have a fascinating campaign in Nigeria, a real test for democracy in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a potentially incredibly close race in Liberia, and now two epoch changing elections in Egypt and Tunisia. But on Friday it is Uganda’s turn, and it could yet prove the most important of them all.

Uganda Districts

Districts and regions of Uganda

What happens in Uganda will have a huge impact on the rest of Central and East Africa. Uganda’s economy, long in the doldrums, is growing rapidly and it is now one of the primary economic forces in the region. But even more important is Uganda’s regional political clout. Uganda and most of its neighbours have active insurgencies, and these insurgencies have become intertwined; both because all sides have been operating under the delusion that the enemy of your enemy is a good person to arm to the teeth, and because insurgents are no respecters of international borders. If Uganda continues to move towards a lasting peace then that can only simplify the ongoing problems in Sudan, Chad, the Central African Republic, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. If it goes the other way then the rocky peace in the region starts to look rocker still. The discovery of well over 700 million barrels of oil on the Ugando-Congolese border has only raised the stakes.

Of course Uganda’s oil boom has only increased the likelihood of the incumbents – always the frontrunners in any case – winning.  President Yoweri Museveni, a severe autocrat but it has to be said a very successful leader, and his NRM (National Resistance Movement) are looking to extend their rule from 25 years to 30 and one wouldn’t bet against it. They seized power in a military coup in 1985 and only allowed multi-party elections in 2005. Since then the playing field has been far from even: a gang nobody will admit knowledge of – The Kiboko Squad – appear every time the opposition mount a protest and hit the protestors with sticks, sections of the police – including the brutal anti-terrorist Black Mambas – intimidate opposition leaders, the most credible rival – doctor, Colonel and former NRM minister turned democracy advocate Kizza Besigye – was arrested on trumped up charges of rape and treason (only the former have been formally dropped), and the NRM are so institutionalised in the media and political climate that there is scarcely any public space for the opposition.

But there is far more to elections than who wins them. If the NRM do what Egypt did last year and completely destroy the democratic opposition, then it will only push their opponent onto the streets or into the hills. And if the NRM are caught, like the Cote d’Ivoire’s Gbagbo, too obviously rigging the results, then that too can deeply destabilize the country. Moreover elections in Uganda are not a total formality either: both the legislative and the executive have exerted their independence on occasion, and such actual vote rigging as there is seems to be individual rather than institutional. A new pressure group, the CCEDU, has been campaigning to stop Ugandans selling their vote. If they are successful then the NRM may not have things all their own way.

Languages of Uganda

Ethnolinguistic groups in Uganda

If the issues are allowed to dictate voting behaviour, then there is a real possibility Museveni may lose for – whilst he had previously enjoyed widespread popularity as a result in the upturn in the economy – this has taken a severe battering of late.

Uganda is split ethno-linguistically in half. The north and east are dominated by Nilotic people whereas the south and west are Bantu. The north and east contest that Museveni has always favoured the Bantu areas, and it is certainly true that these areas have not seen nearly as much development recently as the south and west. The Nilotic areas voted for Besigye last time and will most likely do so again given half a chance. But what will hurt Museveni more is that his star is fading in his former strongholds.

In the west the issue is the oil. The local view is that, as it is on their land, they should receive the majority of the revenue from it. Besigye has effectively promised them this, whereas Museveni has shied away from making any commitments. As such Besigye is riding a wave of popularity in the western towns, although it does not appear to be having any effect in the rural areas. Even more damaging for Museveni is his row in the centre with the historic kingdom of Buganda.

Buganda Kayunga Uganda

Buganda (red) and Kayunga (checked) within Uganda (pink)

The Kings of Buganda were abolished by Museveni’s predecessors, something which caused deep resentment, and when they were restored in 1993 (admittedly with only a symbolic function) it appeared he had brought the gratitude of the central region for life. However since then King (Muwenda Mutebi II )and President have been at almost constant loggerheads as the King strives to make his power real and the President seeks to cut him down to size. Things came to a head in September of 2009 when it was announced that the district of Kayunga had seceded from the Kingdom of Buganda. The King wanted to visit to talk them out of it but was barred by the President. In the ensuing riots 30 people were killed, and the situation had not died down when – a year later – the historic tombs of the Bugandan Kings were burned down, seemingly by pro government thugs.

Almost all the opposition parties have joined together in a coalition around Besigye called the “Forum for Democratic Change”. They have been campaigning on all these issues, and particularly that of ethnic favouritism. Meanwhile Museveni has been campaigning on his record on the economy and on the dubious claim that Besigye has links to the brutal Christian insurgency – the Lord’s Resistance Army. A number of independents (many of whom have links to the NRM, and some of whom have just been barred for being brazenly disguised partisans), the “Uganda People’s Congress” of former President Obotoe, the conservative “Democratic Party”, the Christian “Conservative Party”, and the Muslim “Justice Forum” round out the field. Both the system and the circumstances point towards a Museveni win, but we will see what Friday brings.

The System

My idea was that this could be an insert box:

The President is elected by straightforward first-past-the-post. There is a second round (scheduled for March 9th) if no candidate receives 50% of the vote. This has never yet happened, and the weakness of third candidates suggests that this election will be no exception.

Parliament is likewise mostly elected by first past the post, but there are some parallel systems to ensure extra representation for women, soldiers, youth, workers and the disabled. 238 members are directly elected by first past the post. 112 female MPs are also directly elected by first past the post in parallel elections where each of the 112 districts forms the constituency. A further 10 MPs, two of which must be women, are appointed by the chief of the Army. A further five MPs each (four elected one by each of the four regions and one, who must be a woman, elected by the whole nation) are elected by members of the National Youth Council and the National and Central Organisations of Trade Unions respectively to represent youth and workers respectively. A further five MPs are elected by a national electoral college of people nominated by the National Union of Disabled Persons of Uganda to represent disabled peoples. As all these groups are quasi-governmental, these last 25 seats invariably go to the NRM.

The result last time

The Presidential result was Museveni 59.2%, Besigye 37.4%, Kizito (Democratic Party) 1.6%, Bwanika (Ind) 1.0%, and M Obote (UPC) 0.8%. In parliament it was NRM 215, FDC 37, Ind 37, UPC 9, Democratic Party 8, Conservative Party 1, Justice Forum 1

Random things I didn’t get round to saying

Besigye was, I believe, something of an NRM protege before he turned on them. If I’ve got my dates right then he was a doctor (and Museveni’s private physician) at 23, a Colonel at 26, and Minister for the Interior at 29.

Sadly there is a degree of hegemony in the attitude of Ugandan politicians to homosexuality. The law suggesting the death penalty for homosexuality will be debated by the new parliament, but unfortunately no party seems willing to condemn it.  This piece critiquing the DJ Scott Mills documentary on the subject was quite good.

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