Senegalese voters will head to the polls today to elect mayors in each of the country’s 550 municipalities. The incumbent
Senegalese voters will head to the polls today to elect mayors in each of the country’s 550 municipalities.
The incumbent mayors—most of whom belong to President Macky Sall’s Benno Bokk Yakaar (BBY) coalition—have held office since 2014. Despite five-year term lengths, the BBY has repeatedly postponed elections originally slated for 2019.
Today’s series of votes serves as a referendum on Sall’s highly controversial presidency, which has been marred by corruption and anti-democratic scandals. Multiple opposition candidates have been barred from elections or jailed. It will also see the election of the mayor of the capital city, Dakar, a key position that oversees a quarter of the country’s population, over half of its GDP and 80% of employment opportunities.
Given widespread dissatisfaction with the BBY among young urban voters, expect Barthelemy Dias of the opposition Liberate the People coalition (YAW) coalition to win the mayorship in Dakar. While the results of the national elections are less certain, a strong showing in Dakar will likely boost YAW to national prominence, potentially jeopardizing the BBY in the upcoming parliamentary elections in June. However, given President Sall’s history of blocking opposition candidates, a YAW victory in Dakar could prompt expanded government pushback.
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