Madagascar National Assembly elections overshadowed by corruption and protests

Madagascar National Assembly elections overshadowed by corruption and protests

The east African island nation of Madagascar holds elections for its 151-member National Assembly today. The elections come as over

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Photo: Reuters

The east African island nation of Madagascar holds elections for its 151-member National Assembly today. The elections come as over half of Madagascan MPs are suspected of corruption.

Corruption has long been an issue for Madagascar. Indeed, last November’s presidential election exposed bribery in the country’s crucial natural resources sector. The country’s national corruption agency began proceedings against over 70 of the country’s MPs just two weeks ago, raising the possibility of heightened political and social instability following today’s vote. Investigations include bribes for government contracts, skimming funds from social services, and payments for access to natural resources development.

President Andry Rajoelina pledged to fight corruption during his election campaign last year. However, the scale of the issue—Madagascar is ranked 155 out of 180 by Transparency International’s corruption index—makes strong structural reform the only realistic solution.  The issue threatens efforts to boost development in a country with significant natural resources but chronic underinvestment and a lack of infrastructure.

Similar to last year’s presidential election, voter anger at corruption and vast inequalities is expected to see many MPs lose their seats. However, unless the new National Assembly takes up anti-corruption measures as a legislative priority, little is expected to change. President Rajoelina is expected to push for financial disclosures from sitting MP’s as well as stronger powers for anti-corruption regulators to limit financial conflicts in public infrastructure and natural resource deals.

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