Tuesday, December 20, 2016

2016 Elections round-up and 2017 elections prelude

2016 was a big year for elections in ECOWAS countries:

  • Benin, Cape Verde, Gambia, Ghana, and Niger had presidential elections. Only in Cape Verde and Niger did an incumbent win (unless you believe Jammeh in Gambia that he should have won as well). 
  • Cape Verde, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Niger, and Nigeria had parliamentary elections.
  • Cote d'Ivoire and Senegal both had constitutional referenda. 
  • Nigeria had gubernatorial and local elections, and Niger had local elections. 
2017 has fewer elections planned for ECOWAS countries:
  • Liberia has a presidential election in October and a constitutional referendum planned. 
  • Gambia has a parliamentary election in April (and a disputed presidential inauguration in January)
  • Senegal and Sierra Leone have general elections. 
  • Guinea and Niger have local elections. 

Guinea-Bissau's 5th Prime Minister since August 2015

The last time I wrote about Guinea-Bissau (in September 2015), they were on their third prime minister in one month (Pereira was dismissed by President Vaz, then Dja was rejected by the Parliament, then Correia was appointed). All of these characters were members of the same party, the PAIGC, which controls the presidency and the Parliament, but there is conflict between the two branches of government.

Since September 2015, the country has had two more prime ministers. In May 2016, Vaz ejected Correia and tried to bring back Dja, but he was rejected again by Parliament. 

ECOWAS intervened to help - the Liberian president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, held negotiations with the three main parties in Guinea-Bissau. Following the negotiations, in October Vaz dismissed Dja (which was what the PAIGC in Parliament wanted) and in November appointed Umaro Sissoco (which was not what they wanted). The PAIGC and one of the main opposition parties, União para a Mudança (UM), said that another candidate, Augusto Olivais, had been agreed to in the negotiations.

On December 13, Sissoco selected a cabinet which the PAIGC in Parliament rejected.

ECOWAS delegation has no influence (yet?) on Jammeh in Gambia

Yahya Jammeh, who took control of Gambia in a military coup in 1994, continues to reject the outcome of the election he lost on December 1.

Presidents from four other ECOWAS countries - Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone - visited Gambia to convince Jammeh to accept the election results, but to no effect (as of yet). Military action is an option but there are no clear plans from ECOWAS on that front.

Jammeh at first (surprisingly) accept the election results, but then he changed his mind. One reason he may have decided to stay is "foolhardy pledges of some of the opposition to arrest him for his many abuses of human rights." Military dictators often negotiate a transition to democracy in exchange for amnesty for any human rights abuses during their rule. Jammeh didn't try to negotiate his exit - he tried to win a fifth presidential election (which is why scholars such as Geddes characterize rulers like Jammeh as a personalist leader).

Nonetheless, the opposition would have been better advised to hold off on any threats to prosecute Jammeh until they were safely in power and had clear control of the military. Investigations into the assassination of Sankara by Compaore were one of the triggers for a coup by Compaore's presidential guard after Compaore (another personalist leader who took power in a military coup) was denied the opportunity to run for a fifth presidential term. Members of military governments don't like to face criminal charges if they step down from power.

The winner of the election, Adama Barrow, says he will go forward with his inauguration in January. If he does, and Jammeh continues to claim he won the presidency, this would be similar to what happened in Cote d'Ivoire in 2010, which restarted the civil war.

It looked like 2016 would be the year when Gambia would no longer be the only ECOWAS country that isn't at least "Partly Free," according to Freedom House, but it looks like that won't be the case. ECOWAS looks likely to enter 2017 as it did in 2016, according to Freedom House: with four "Free" countries (Benin, Cape Verde, Ghana, and Senegal), ten "Partly Free" countries, and one "Not Free" country: Gambia.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Ghana election maps tell the story

2012 General Election Results
2016 General Election Results
(as of Dec. 10)

The two maps above for 2012 and 2016 tell much of the story about Ghana's election results and the regional bases of support for the two main parties.

The NPP regional stronghold is in the Ashanti region (the left blue region in the left map), which is the most populous region in the country with nearly 5 million people. (Apart from Greater Accra, which holds the national capital, other regions have populations under 3 million.) Ashanti region's capital, Kumasi, is the capital of the Ashanti kingdom.

The NDC regional stronghold is the Volta region (the long region to the east), where the Ewes are the dominant ethnic group. Jerry Rawlings, who led Ghana from December 1971 (when he launched his second coup) to January 2001 (when he stepped down after serving two elected terms as president) is from the Volta region.

The other eight regions are relatively competitive between the two parties (and in the northern three regions, third parties sometimes do well).

In 2012, Mahama (NDC) won 8 of 10 regions in the country; in 2016, Akufo-Addo (NPP) won 6 of 10 regions. Similarly, in 2012 the NDC won 148 of 275 seats in the legislature, and in 2016 the NPP is expected to win over 150 seats.

UPDATE: Here is a more detailed map, at the district rather than region level. It shows that Akufo-Addo won in several northern districts. A vote count by region demonstrates that the Ashanti region continues to be the NPP stronghold (76% for Akufo-Addo) and the Volta region continues to be the NDC stronghold (82% for Mahama); in all other regions, each party won at least one third of the vote.

Ghana's Opposition Candidate Wins Presidency in 3rd Attempt

On the same day Gambia's incumbent president withdrew acceptance of his defeat by the oppostion in that country's presidential election, the opposition candidate, Nana Akufo-Addo (NPP), in Ghana's presidential election was announced the winner. The incumbent, John Mahama (NDC), promptly conceded defeat and there is no doubt he will continue to accept the election results.

Ghana is one of Africa's most consolidated democracies. This election is the seventh peaceful presidential election since multiparty elections were reintroduced in 1992, the third alternation of power between parties (following NDC->NPP in 2000 and NPP->NDC in 2008), and the first time an incumbent president was defeated.

Ghana's economy has been growing at 4%, which doesn't sound bad (it's average for the continent), but this is down from 14% in 2011 when the country started pumping oil. Since then, oil prices have come down and the government overspent, resulting in the need for an IMF bail-out last year. Its currency was the worst performing on the continent in 2014, when it lost 27% of value, which means inflation from higher-priced imports. Unemployment among the youth (15-24) is very high, an estimated 48%.

Akufo-Addo is a human rights lawyer who campaigned for multiparty democracy during the authoritarian rule of the PNDC, whose leadership formed the NDC. This year's presidential campaign was his third. In 2008, he received a plurality in the first round, with 48%, but narrowly lost in the second round with 49.8%. In 2012 he narrowly lost with 48% in the first round. This time he won decisively, with 54% versus 44% for Mahama. The NPP campaign emphasized "sustainable jobs through industrialization", promising construction of a factory in each of the country's 2016 provinces.

The NPP also benefits from support in the Ashanti region. The NPP Ashanti regional chairman predicted the NPP would win 90% of the votes in his region. The Ashanti are a major subgroup of the Akan, which is the largest ethnic group in Ghana, making up slightly less than half the population.

Gambia's Surprise Election Result Suspended

It was a surprise that Gambia's President Jammeh wasn't able to stop the electoral commission from announcing he lost the election, and it was a huge surprise that he accepted the loss last Monday, so it wasn't a surprise at all that he changed his mind on Friday. Jammeh complains there were irregularities and called for another vote. No doubt there were irregularities, just not enough to get him the result he wanted.

Côte d'Ivoire's president in 2010 rejected the electoral defeat announced by the electoral commission, which resulted in two presidents holding inaugurations and return to civil war, but in Gambia the opposition isn't armed, so they are relying on hopes that ECOWAS will intervene.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Ghana Election History

To put yesterday's election in context, here is Ghana's presidential election history since multiparty elections were re-instituted in 1992. There is regular alternation between the two main parties, and the vote share has been very close since 2000.

When no candidate wins 50% in the first round, there is a runoff between the top two candidates.

Counting for yesterday's election is still in progress, but Nana Akufo-Addo (NPP) is reportedly in the lead with 49.5% of the vote, so a second round may be required. In 2009, the NPP candidate won in the first round but the incumbent NDC candidate won in the second round.

John Dramani Mahama (NDC) 50.7%
Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo (NPP) 47.7%

John Atta-Mills (NDC) Round 1: 47.9%  Round 2: 50.2%
Nana A D Akufo-Addo (NPP) Round 1: 49.1%  Round 2: 49.8%

John Agyekum Kufuor (NPP) 52.5%
John Atta-Mills (NDC) 44.6% 

John Agyekum Kufuor (NPP) Round 1: 48.2%   Round 2: 56.9%
John Atta-Mills (NDC) Round 1: 44.5%   Round 2: 43.1%

Jerry John Rawlings (NDC) 57.4%
John Kufuor (NPP) 39.7%

Jerry John Rawlings (NDC) 58.40%
Albert Adu Boahen (NPP) 30.29%

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Ghana Election

Today was election day in Ghana. The results are coming in. 

From the Monkey Cage, here are 9 things you should know about the election. A quick summary: (1) the two main candidates are incumbent John Mahama of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and Nana Akufo-Addo of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP). (2) "the electorates’ appetite for democratic turnovers, a failing economy, and several high-profile corruption scandals increase the chances for the opposition NPP candidate." (3) The economy has been on the decline and inflation on the rise. ... (9) Over 1,000 candidates from eleven parties will compete in parliamentary elections.

Surprise ending to Gambian president's billion-year mandate

The result last month in the US presidential election wasn't the surprise of the year after all. 

Five years ago, Gambia's President Yahya Jammeh said he would rule the small country for one billion years. In February, knowledgeable observers predicted Jammeh wouldn't be leaving office any time soon. In November, Jammeh said that "Allah elected me, and only Allah can remove me.”

As it turned out, these predictions were all wrong. According to the final results, Jammeh received 40% of the vote and the new president elect, Adamah Barrow, won with 43%. 

From independence in 1965 until 1994, Gambia had regular free and fair elections, although the same person - Dawda Jawara - won all of those elections, first parliamentary elections that indirectly made him prime minister, and then direct elections that made him president. In 1994, Jammeh overthrew Jawara and won multiparty presidential elections every five years from 1996-2011. Based on those four elections, no-one expected Jammeh to lose this time:

Some of those elections were close, but Jammeh repeatedly used state power to guarantee victory. For example, in advance of the 2011 election, the Commission for the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) declined to send observers to Gambia, stating in a press release that “the preparations and political environment for the said election are adjudged by the Commission not to be conducive for the conduct of free, fair and transparent polls.” The Commission added, “The reports of [our] fact-finding mission and the Early Warning System paint a picture of intimidation, an unacceptable level of control of the electronic media by the party in power, the lack of neutrality of state and para-statal institutions, and an opposition and electorate cowed by repression and intimidation.”
This year, Jammeh was taking similar steps to win the election. The opposition candidate who placed second in the previous four elections, Ousainou Darboe, was arrested in July. The night before the election, Gambian authorities turned off the internet. International phone calls and street protests were banned.

And yet Jammeh lost. Some possible reasons: Barrow, a real estate developer and opposition politician who emerged as the candidate for Darboe's party, united the opposition behind him by running as the candidate for a seven-party coalition rather than just his party. It may have helped that he was a fresh face.

It was equally surprising that Jammeh accepted the loss, given what appeared strong support from the security forces. Perhaps some members of the military were ready for a fresh face as well.

UPDATE: Economist December 10 story on the "shock victory". And of course Jammeh didn't stick with his acceptance of the loss.