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Madagascar - 2018 Election

By 11 November 2018 after counting from 30.6 percent of polling stations, Antry Rajoelina was ahead with 40.9 percent of the votes against 36 percent for Marc Ravalomanana, the CENI electoral authority said. Outgoing president Hery Rajaonarimampianina had 7 percent of ballots. Madagascars electoral regulations mean the two frontrunners will be forced into a run-off in December if neither manages to secure more than 50 percent of the votes in the first round ballot.

Madagascar's former presidents Andry Rajoelina and Marc Ravalomanana were neck-and-neck in the country's presidential race according to partial results published by the electoral commission on 08 November 2018. Rajoelina won 43.5 percent of votes cast in Wednesday's vote, while Ravalomanana secured 42.44 percent, according to results from 147 polling stations out of 24,852 nationwide. The incumbent President Hery Rajaonarimampianina trailed with 2.93 percent of the votes counted.

International observers ruled out irregularities in this week's presidential election in Madagascar, after former leader Hery Rajaonarimampianina alleged the ballot was marred by fraud. In separate statements on Friday, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the European Union's monitoring mission to the Indian Ocean island-nation said no major anomalies took place during the vote.

Provisional results were expected by November 20. They must then be confirmed by the High Constitutional Court by November 28. Because of the unusually high number of contestants, few expect an outright winner and the poll is widely expected to go into a second round. This would involve only the two top candidates and would be held on December 19. Observers hoped for the second peaceful election since the upheaval of 2009, when Ravalomanana was forced out of office by protests led by Rajoelina in what international organisations such as the African Union said was a coup.

Madagascar's economic problems stem from the period in which Rajoelina led the country. The opposition leader came to power through a putsch in March 2009. All this time the country had no constitutional government, aid was suspended and the economy was shrinking and investors fled.

For the last decade, Madagascar was in a deadlock. Growth was only in the main cities and didn't concern the rural areas. Rajoelina, like many of the other candidates, is promising to improve the countrys economy and improve living standards. The poverty rate stands at almost 92% and has been aggravated by the recent drought and floods, which have destroyed more than 70% of crops. The population outside the capital is living in a situation of despair.

While the incumbent President Hery Rajaonarimampianina promised an ambitious economic programme called "Emergence 2030", there is a hiatus between the economic situation now and how he is wanting to push it in the far future. President Rajaonarimampianina at least has brought investors back. Yet he's struggled to maintain a stable parliamentary majority and in May 2018 faced social protests after his attempts to change the country's electoral laws to block Rajoelina and Ravalomanane from running in the November 2018 election.

The country was rocked by protests initially called against new electoral laws the opposition said were aimed at barring their candidates from taking part in elections scheduled for later in 2018. Elections were already expected between November and December, but the Consitutional Court ordered that they should be held in the "dry season" - between May and September.

But the demonstrations snowballed into demands for the president to step down. Madagascar's constitutional court ruled 26 May 2018 that the president must form a national unity government in order to end a political deadlock. The Constitutional Court ruled that the composition of the new unity government should proportionately reflect the outcome of the last legislative elections in 2013. Both sides say they hold the majority in parliament, where many legislators had switched allegiances since 2013.

Madagascar's new prime minister, Christian Ntsay, took office on 06 June 2018, vowing to push ahead with an "inclusive presidential election" aimed at hauling the country out of a deep crisis. Ntsay, a technocrat, was named by President Hery Rajaonarimampianina on 04 June 2018 under a process ordered by the Constitutional Court to end a long-running political crisis.

The large Indian Ocean island was due to hold polls in late November or December 2018. President Rajaonarimampianina had been in power since 2013, and his administration has been marred by allegations of corruption and incompetence. In 2015, parliament voted to remove him from office for "constitutional violations," but the country's constitutional court threw out the motion.

In the face of legal imperatives, the government planned to advance a few weeks the holding of the 2018 presidential election. According to a source familiar with the file, "a proposal to advance the first round of the presidential election between the end of the month of September and early October are under consideration so that the second round of voting can be held no later than November 30, 2018, outside the rainy season, as stipulated in the election Code".

The provisions of the Constitution which provide that "The election of the President of the Republic takes place at least thirty days, and sixty days at most, before the expiry of the term of office of the current President", the first round of the presidential election should be held between 25 November and 25 December 2018. The second round should be held in the rainy season. However, a constraint posed by the Electoral Code is that elections are held between April 30 and November 30, in the dry period.

By mid-2017 many political figures had already declared that they wanted to be candidates for the 2018 presidential elections. Former President Marc Ravalomanana was the first, a few days after his return, saying that the country could not wait until 2018. A candidacy that did not astonish anyone that the very day after his departure in exile after having ceded power, Marc Ravalomanana showed a willingness to take control of the head of state. The candidacy of Lalao Ravalomanana to the magistracy of the Capital ensued. Former Transitional Prime Minister Omer Beriziky has already expressed his presence in the upcoming presidential elections, representing the UNDD parties and the MAMIMAD association.

The candidacy of the current President of the Republic had also been formalized by the ruling party Hery Vaovao ho an'i Madagasikara (HVM). Some opposition parties including the Malagasy Miara-Miainga (MMM) of Hajo Andrianainarivelo and the Freedom Party of Lalatiana Rakotondrazafy have pointed out that the opposition should present a single candidate. A possibility not ruled out by the party Miaraka amin'i Prezida Andry Rajoelina (MAPAR) who had not moved forward. Finally, the party Antoka sy Dinanny Nosy (DNA) of the former President of the Special Delegation of Antananarivo Edgard Razafindravahy had already set out to conquer many areas of the island. The latest to announce his candidacy was Pastor Mailhol of the Apokalypsy Church.

Aside from these, some names began to circulate and persist on this subject. Notably that of the former Prime Minister under the Ratsiraka regime from 1998 to 2002 in the person of Tantely Andrianarivo who just recently arrived in the country. Moreover, the party of Admiral Didier Ratsiraka was in trouble candidate in the municipal elections. On the other hand, another champion of the red party in his time, in the person of Jos Andrianoelison whose name had already been mentioned as succeeding Prime Minister Jean Ravelonarivo for this regime could also surprise.

In addition, the name of the former Director General of the Treasury Orlando Robimanana also circulated in the political sphere. He would still travel abroad as an expert for the International Monetary Fund (IMF). In spite of that, according to observers, he would have his chances of running for a presidential term. Some parties that still weighed in the first round in October of 2013 are also expected. Many of them have also joined opposition coalitions to the Rajaonarimampianina regime such as the Armada or the platform "Mitsangana ry Malagasy" who had been silent for some time.

The number of candidates will not be a problem with regard to the presidential elections of 2018. The Malagasy will have many choices. The question that arose is more about the programs that candidates go to and will have to present to the electorate.

Although Malagasy people tend to vote more for a person than for a program, this criterion should be the first concern and candidates and voters. Especially for the next mandate, to get the country out of the political and economic slump in which it has been plunged for years already. Apart from the DNA party that advocates the establishment of federalism in Madagascar, the other programs proposed by the former leaders have not really been understood by the population. This is the case, for example, with the National Development Plan (NDP) of the Rajaonarimampianina regime.

Moreover, in 75% of the cases, the candidates do not elaborate their programs until they arrive at the head of the State, and do not submit any project of company during the electoral campaigns. They are content to chant the fight against poverty and the development of Madagascar.

Supporters of former President Marc Ravalomanana say the new statute effectively stops him from running in the country's general election that is set for later in 2018. Opposition politicians have also complained about restrictive new laws about campaign financing and media access. Ravalomanana, who was deposed in a 2009 coup, teamed up with the man who succeeded him, Andy Rajoelina, to oppose the laws pushed by President Hery Rajaonarimampianina.

The opposition says the new electoral law requires a presidential candidate to produce a report on all previous judicial convictions, which could be a disadvantage for their candidate. Ravalomanana was convicted by a court when he was in exile after the 2009 coup for a range of offences. On 21 April 2018 hundreds of demonstrators gathered in the government quarter to protest the new law they say is designed to prevent their candidate from running in this year's presidential elections. Local news described a heavy police presence, including both police and soldiers guarding important sites like parliament.

The constitutional court ruled on 03 May 2018 that parts of the electoral law, including those that would have prevented Ravalomanana and Rajoelina from running, unconstitutional, weakening the president further.

The attempts by Rajaonarimampianina, the incumbent, to change the country's electoral laws backfired and sparked nearly three months of bitter anti-government demonstrations. Political opponents claimed the proposed changes were aimed at barring their candidates from taking part in the election. In June, the country's top court ordered the formation of a national unity government with a "consensus prime minister" to avert a full-blown crisis.

As registration for candidates in Novembers presidential poll opened 08 August 2018, former president Andry Rajoelina was expected to stand. Rajoelina's return could dramatically shake up Madagascar's political landscape. He was one of the three men who had dominated Malagasy politics in recent years. The two others are Marc Ravalomanana, who was deposed in a military coup that brought Rajoelina to power in March 2009, and current president Hery Rajaonarimampianina.

on September 7, Rajaonarimampianina resigned from office to compete in the presidential election.

Rajoelina clearly has a lot of money. The 44-year old launched his ambitious program called the Initiative for the Emergence of Madagascar (IEM) at the Petit Palais art gallery in Paris in May 2018. Not many Malagasy politicians have the sort of capacity to launch their political agenda in a foreign capital with a high profile event like that. The young opposition leader may have the campaign capacity, but he also has a lot of expectations riding on his shoulders, notably from the Diaspora.

Candidates had until 21 August to submit their applications. The first round of the presidential election will take place on 7 November. It may go into a run-off in December if none of the candidates obtain 50% of the vote. The temptation for whoever comes third will be to strike a deal in the hope of securing a share of influence. Whether any of them can cut a deal with any of the others, and how far any of them would be prepared to compromise is difficult to say. There are three people, each of whom is pursuing a very personalized agenda and whove all been prepared to push the bounds of constitutional and legal means to pursue their own ambitions for the top job.





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