Election Watch

Issue Date April 2006
Volume 17
Issue 2
Page Numbers 176-80
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(December 2005–March 2006)

Belarus: A presidential election was scheduled for March 19; results will be reported in a future issue.

Benin: A presidential election was held March 5; results will be reported in a future issue.

Bolivia: Former coca farmer Evo Morales of the Movement to Socialism (MAS) became the country’s first indigenous president after winning 54 percent in polling on December 18. José Quiroga of Social and Democratic Power (PODEMOS) came in second with 29 percent. In legislative elections held the same day, MAS and PODEMOS won 72 and 43 seats respectively in the 130-seat Chamber of Deputies, and 13 and 12 seats respectively in the 27-seat Senate. Remaining seats were split between the National Unity Front and the Nationalist Revolutionary Movement. Turnout was 84 percent.

Cape Verde: In January 22 elections for the 72-seat National Assembly, the ruling African Party for the Independence of Cape Verde (PAICV) won 41 seats; the Movement for Democracy (MPD), 29 seats; and the Cape Verdian Independent and Democratic Union, 2 seats. In a February 12 presidential election, incumbent Pedro Pires of the PAICV was reelected with 51 percent of the vote, narrowly defeating MPD candidate Carlos Veiga, with 49 percent. Turnout was roughly 50 percent in both elections.

Chile: In a presidential runoff held January 15, one-time political prisoner Michelle Bachelet of the ruling Coalition of Parties for Democracy (CPD) won 53 percent of the vote, defeating billionaire Sebastián Piñera of the National Renovation (RN) party and becoming the country’s first [End Page 176] female head of state. In the December 11 first round, Bachelet led with 46 percent, while Piñera received 25 percent and Joaquín Lavín of the Independent Democratic Union (UDI) received 23 percent. In concurrent legislative elections, the CPD won 11 of the 20 contested Senate seats and 65 seats in the 120-seat Chamber of Deputies. The Alliance for Chile, which includes the RN and the UDI, won 8 upper-house and 54 lower-house seats.

Colombia: Legislative elections were scheduled for March 12; results will be reported in a future issue.

Costa Rica: In a February 5 presidential election, ex-president and 1987 Nobel Peace Prize winner Oscar Arias of the Party of National Liberation (PLN) defeated Ottón Solis of the Citizens’ Action Party (PAC) by 40.5 to 40.3 percent—a margin so narrow that it prompted a manual recount. In elections to the 57-member Legislative Assembly held the same day, 25 seats went to the PLN, 18 to the PAC, and 6 to the Libertarian Movement. The Social Christian Unity Party of outgoing president Abel Pacheco saw its seat share drop from 19 to 4.

El Salvador: Legislative elections were scheduled for March 12; results will be reported in a future issue.

Haiti: According to official results of the February 7 election, the first since the 2004 rebellion that deposed President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, former president René Préval of the Hope Party (Lespwa) captured 51 percent of the votes cast. Former president Leslie Manigat of the Rally of Progressive National Democrats finished second with 12 percent. All other candidates won less than 10 percent. Both the election and the vote count were marred by violence and allegations of fraud. First-round parliamentary elections were held on the same day, and a second round was scheduled for March 19. Results will be reported in a future issue.

Honduras: Elections to the 128-member National Congress took place on November 27. Newly elected president Manuel Zelaya’s Liberal Party secured 62 seats, the National Party of outgoing president Ricardo Maduro secured 55, and three smaller parties split the remaining 11. Results for the concurrent presidential election were reported in our January issue.

Iraq: Parliamentary elections were held on December 15 to replace the Transitional National Assembly elected in January 2005. Of the 275 seats, 128 went to the Shi’ite United Iraqi Alliance, 53 to the Kurdistan Alliance, 44 to the Sunni Accord Front, 25 to the secular Iraqi List, and 11 to the Sunni National Dialogue Front. Despite the violence surrounding the elections, turnout amounted to 77 percent. For more information on these elections, see the article by Adeed Dawisha and Larry Diamond on pp. 89–103 of this issue. [End Page 177]

Palestinian Territories: On January 25, elections were held to the 132-seat Palestinian Legislative Council for the first time since 1996. The fundamentalist Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) won 74 seats, while the Palestinian Liberation Movement (Fatah) of president Mahmoud Abbas secured only 45 seats. Remaining seats went to minor parties and independents. Hamas, which is regarded by many Western governments as a terrorist organization, was contesting parliamentary elections for the first time.

Samoa: Parliamentary elections were scheduled for March 31; results will be reported in a future issue.

São Tomé and Príncipe: Parliamentary elections were scheduled for March 26; results will be reported in a future issue.

Tanzania: On December 14, general elections were held for the third time since the transition to multiparty democracy in 1992. In the presidential polling, Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete of the Revolutionary Party of Tanzania (CCM), which has been in power since independence in 1960, received 80 percent of the vote. Ibrahim Lipumba of the Civic United Front (CUF) finished a distant second with 12 percent of the vote, followed by Freeman Mbowe of the Party for Democracy and Progress (CDM), who won 6 percent. Of the 233 elected seats in the National Assembly, the CCM claimed 206; the CUF, 19; and the CDM, 5. The additional 75 seats set aside for women were distributed among the parties based on their vote shares. According to international observers, the elections were generally free and fair, albeit violent in the politically troubled semi-autonomous islands of Zanzibar.

Uganda: On February 23, in the first multiparty election since 1980, incumbent president Yoweri Museveni of the National Resistance Movement was reelected to a third term with 59 percent of the vote. His main political rival, opposition leader Kizza Besigye of the new Forum for Democratic Change, finished with 37 percent. International observers criticized the electoral process for failing to provide a level playing field, pointing to Besigye’s arrest on charges of treason and rape last year. Museveni had changed the constitution to allow him to contest these polls despite having been in power since 1986, when he claimed the presidency through a coup. Results for the concurrent legislative elections will be reported in a future issue.

Ukraine: Parliamentary elections were scheduled for March 26; results will be reported in a future issue.

Venezuela: In December 4 legislative elections, socialist president Hugo Chávez’s ruling Fifth Republic Movement captured 114 of the 167 seats in the National Assembly. All remaining seats went to parties loyal [End Page 178] to Chávez. The vast majority of the opposition boycotted the elections, citing the electoral council’s progovernment bias. European Union observers found the electoral process itself generally clean, but noted that “wide sectors of Venezuelan society do not have trust in the electoral process and in the independence of the electoral authority.” Only 25 percent of eligible voters participated in the polling.

(April 2006–March 2007)

Angola: presidential and parliamentary, August 2006

Armenia: presidential, February 2007

Benin: legislative, March 2007

Bolivia: legislative, July 2006

Bosnia and Herzegovina: parliamentary, October 2006

Brazil: presidential and legislative, 1 October 2006

Bulgaria: presidential, November 2006

Chad: parliamentary, April 2006; presidential, May 2006

Colombia: presidential, 28 May 2006

Comoros: presidential, 10 April 2006

Czech Republic: parliamentary, 2–3 June 2006

Democratic Republic of Congo: presidential and legislative, 29 April 2006

Dominican Republic: legislative, 16 May 2006

East Timor: parliamentary, August 2006

Ecuador: presidential and legislative, 26 November 2006

Estonia: presidential, September 2006; parliamentary, March 2007

Fiji: presidential, April 2006; parliamentary, August 2006

Gabon: parliamentary, December 2006

The Gambia: presidential, October 2006; legislative, January 2007

Guinea: parliamentary, June 2006

Guyana: presidential and parliamentary, summer 2006

Hungary: parliamentary, 9 April 2006

Kyrgyzstan: parliamentary, December 2006 [End Page 179]

Macedonia: parliamentary, September 2006

Madagascar: presidential, December 2006

Mexico: presidential and legislative, 2 July 2006

Nicaragua: presidential and legislative, 5 November 2006

Peru: presidential and legislative, 9 April 2006

São Tomé & Príncipe: presidential, July 2006

Senegal: parliamentary, May 2006; presidential, February 2007

Serbia and Montenegro: parliamentary, February 2007; presidential, March 2007

Slovakia: parliamentary, 17 June 2006

Tajikistan: presidential, November 2006

Thailand: parliamentary, 19 April 2006

Trinidad and Tobago: presidential, December 2006

Venezuela: presidential, 3 December 2006

Yemen: presidential, September 2006

Zambia: presidential and legislative, December 2006

Election Watch provides reports of recently decided and upcoming elections in developing nations and the postcommunist world. Elections in nondemocratic nations are included when they exhibit a significant element of genuine competition or, in the case of upcoming elections, when they represent an important test of progress toward democracy. Some of the data for Election Watch come from IFES (founded as the International Foundation for Election Systems), a private, nonprofit education and research foundation that assists in monitoring, supporting, and strengthening the mechanics of the electoral process worldwide. For additional information, visit www.ifes.org.