The first round of Madagascar’s 2023 presidential election will be held today.
President Andry Rajoelina, in power since 2018 and before that as president of the High Transitional Authority from 2009 to 2014 after a successful coup, stepped down in September to seek another term. The government is now led by Prime Minister Christian Ntsay, considered an ally of Rajoelina and tasked with overseeing the electoral process, as the president of the upper house declined the role. Driven by perceived electoral unfairness and Rajoelina’s dual citizenship issue, daily opposition protests have been met with police dispersals and candidate arrests.
Last Thursday, the head of Madagascar’s lower house called for a suspension of the election until the process complies with international standards. On Monday, six out of the twelve opposition candidates, including main opposition figures and ex-presidents Marc Ravalomanana and Hery Rajaonarimampianina, declared they would not participate and urged their supporters to boycott the vote.
With conflicts elsewhere taking away international pressure, today’s election will likely proceed amidst widespread boycotts and protests, as well as increased deployment of security forces. Expect Rajoelina to win the election and any opposition legal challenges to be unsuccessful. Another 5-year term for Rajoelina would likely continue the government’s focus on economic development and political stability, even if the latter coincides with a weaker democratic environment.
Scott is an Analyst at Foreign Brief and works in International Development in Washington DC. His specific interests are geopolitics, regional conflict and governance, and political and economic development, and his geographic focus is Sub-Saharan Africa.