Madagascar to hold senatorial elections

Madagascar will vote today to decide the 12 elected members of its senate. Instead of calling the entire population to

madagascar election

Photo: Thomas Mukoya / Reuters

Madagascar will vote today to decide the 12 elected members of its senate. Instead of calling the entire population to the polls, about 12,000 electors, mostly mayors and municipal councilors, will decide their constituency’s senator.

Opposition parties are boycotting the election following President Andry Rajoelina’s order to reduce the senate’s size from 63 to 18, six of whom are presidentially appointed. Consequentially, only 14 lists of candidates will compete for the 12 seats. Rajoelina has been in power since January 2019, and his Young Malagasies Determined party holds a majority in Madagascar’s lower house. However, opposition parties control the senate and contest that the reduction is designed to curb their power and not to reduce government expenditure or fund universities, as Rajoelina insists.

Expect Young Malagasies Determined to win control of the senate due to the opposition’s absence. Once in total control, Rajoelina likely will address the famine ravaging southern Madagascar and reward loyal districts surrounding the capital, where his support is strongest, with promised infrastructure projects. The High Court’s decision to allow the reduction despite the opposition’s protests exposes the increasingly delicate nature of Madagascar’s democracy, and Rajoelina’s tightening grip on power bodes poorly for its future vitality.

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