Madagascar’s Presidential Elections And What They Mean For Democracy in Africa

The Madagascan presidential elections have been surrounded with controversy, mainly due to financial issues, gender inequality and claims of corruption. Presidential elections themselves are significant in helping to create a stable democracy, which surveys show many African citizens would prefer over other political alternatives. There are parallels between the problems of the Madagascan presidential elections and the cause of pan-African democracy and its protection.

WHAT HAPPENED DURING THE ELECTIONS

On the 7th November 2018, Madagascar held their latest presidential elections. When no candidate received a majority of the vote, a second round was held between the two top candidates: Marc Ravalomanana and Andry Rajoelina. On 27th December, Rajoelina was announced as the winner with around 56% of the vote.

WHY WAS THERE SO MUCH CONTROVERSY SURROUNDING THE ELECTIONS?

Firstly, despite having a record number of candidates in the race at 36, only five of these were women.

Second, there were also several claims from people such as incumbent Henry Rajaonarimampianina. He made the accusation that both top candidates had participated in the 2009 coup d’etat, which had led to an extended suspension of financial support and financial investments. This eventually caused one of the worst economic crises in the country’s history.

Third, there is the issue of financial inequality. The top three candidates had a significant advantage in the campaigns because they had a lot more money than other candidates. Not only this, but there have also been popular arguments suggesting this money might have been more useful if spent elsewhere, such as on education or healthcare.

WHY DO THESE ELECTIONS AND THEIR CONSEQUENCES MATTER?

Madagascar has been overwhelmed with frequent political and social upheaval since gaining its independence from France in 1960. The hugely diverse population of the island depends on the success of modern elections for a more stable environment.

Madagascar is just one key player in Africa’s long-term prospects for collective self-reliance and democratic peace. Many of the issues faced by the country’s elections are also often faced by other African nations. Extensive surveys by Afrobarometer (a non-partisan research network) show a majority of Africa’s citizens would still sooner have democracy than alternatives. This is a reality that institutes like the African Union increasingly recognise and attempt to support. For instance, by helping to apply “a common set of observation principles and democratic election standards, and more comprehensive, fast and technologically advanced tools and training of AU observers.”

As Africa continues to develop and become more involved in the global stage, it is certainly a positive feature that it continues to have a forward-thinking outlook and explore different democratic experiments to create a more stable political environment.

KRISHNA KADIWAR

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