A Briefing on the Madagascar Presidential Election
Situated in the Indian Ocean, Madagascar, an island nation, is trying to recover from years of political instability. The people of Madagascar went to the polls on Wednesday, Nov. 7 to vote for their new president with the vote counting beginning on Thursday, Nov. 8.
The electoral commission estimated that around 48 percent of the the 9.9 million registered voters, out of a population of nearly 25 million people, voted in the election. The vote will determine the fate of the country for the next five years.
There are 36 candidates participating in the presidential election with three main frontrunners standing out. If no candidates is able to secure 50% of the votes cast in the first round of voting, the top two candidates go through to a second round on Dec. 19.
All of the three frontrunners in this elections have been the President of Madagascar in the past. Hery Rajaonarimampianina was president from January 2014 until September 2018 when he resigned to run for reelection. Ravalomanana was president from 2002 to 2009, while Rajoelina was president from 2009 to 2013 after being supported by the military to be president during the transitional period.
On Thursday, the National Election Commission announced partial results from 291 of the more than 24,000 polling stations that put Andry Rajoelina with 45 percent of the votes counted and Marc Ravalomanana with 40 percent.
The Presidential election is not only important for political stability, but also for the 75% of the population that live in poverty. All three candidates have boasted about trying to boost the economy, resonating with at least some of the voters who put access to basic services like water and electricity, and employment as the most important issues.
Measuring factors like health, education and economic performance, the United Nations Human Development Index ranks Madagascar 161st out of 189 countries.
Despite Hery Rajaonarimampianina claiming that “many voting irregularities” took place in these elections, international observers, like the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the European Union, have stated that no major anomalies have taken place that could affect the election results.
A History of Political Instability
At the end of 2001, Mr Ravalomanana, who was the mayor of Antananarivo, won a disputed poll with the defeated candidate Didier Ratsiraka, who has been in power since 1975, refusing to step down.
After weeks of mass protests in 2009, Mr Rajoelina, a media mogul and also mayor of Antananarivo, ousted Mr Ravalomanana in an army-backed coup.
Recently, former president Rajaonarimampianina had to compromise after protests and the threat of a military takeover of the government when he proposed an electoral law that was said to favor him.