Algeria: On April 8, the country’s first civilian president, Adbelaziz Bouteflika of the National Democratic Rally, won reelection with 85 percent of the vote. Former prime minister Ali Benflis of the National Liberation Front won 6 percent, and Islamist candidate Abdallah Djaballah of the Movement for National Reform won 5 percent. While international observers noted that the election was peaceful and relatively transparent, Bouteflika’s rivals accused him of monopolizing the state-run media. The Socialist Forces Front, one of the country’s main political parties, boycotted the election.
Dominican Republic: In a presidential election held on May 16, Leonel Fernández of the Dominican Liberation Party won 57 percent of the vote, defeating incumbent president Hipólito Mejía of the Dominican Revolutionary Party, who received 33 percent. Rafael Estrella of the Social Christian Reformist Party received 9 percent. Turnout was 73 percent.
El Salvador: On March 21, Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA) candidate Antonio Saca won the presidential election with 58 percent, defeating Schafik Handal of the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front, who won 36 percent. Turnout was 65 percent, up from the usual 40 to 45 percent.
Equatorial Guinea: In elections held on April 25, President Teodoro Obiang’s Democratic Party of Equatorial Guinea won 68 of 100 contested seats in the House of People’s Representatives. The Democratic Opposition, an alliance of other political groups closely tied to the president, followed with 30 seats. The remaining two seats went to the Convergence for Social Democracy, the only true opposition party that did not boycott the elections. While election officials claimed that turnout [End Page 174] was at 96 percent, European Union monitors noted that the elections were marred by fear and intimidation, proclaiming the final results “not very credible.” Obiang has been president since 1979, when he seized power in a military coup.
Georgia: In parliamentary elections held on March 28, the National Movement-Democrats, backed by newly elected president Mikheil Saakashvili, won 135 of 150 contested seats in the 235-seat Supreme Council. The remaining 15 seats went to the Rightist Opposition bloc. The elections were held after the Supreme Court declared invalid the results of the November 2003 balloting, which stimulated popular protests that led to the resignation of then-president Eduard Shevardnadze.
Guinea-Bissau: In the first elections since last September’s bloodless ousting of former president Kumba Yala, the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde won 45 seats in the 100-seat unicameral National People’s Assembly. Yala’s Social Renewal Party (PRS) won 35 seats, and the United Social Democratic Party won 17. The PRS protested the results, citing balloting irregularities, but international observers judged the elections to be free, fair, and transparent.
India: In parliamentary elections that lasted from April 20 to May 10, Sonia Gandhi’s Indian National Congress won 145 of the 539 contested seats in the House of the People, defeating the incumbent Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), led by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, which won 138 seats. The Communist Party of India-Marxist won 43 seats, the Samajwadi Party won 36 seats, the National People’s Party won 21 seats, the Bahujan Samaj Party won 19 seats, the Dravidian Progressive Federation won 16, and the Communist Party of India won 10. The new governing coalition will be led by the Congress party, which together with its allies holds 217 seats, compared to the 185 seats held by the BJP and its allies. Voter turnout was 56 percent.
Indonesia: In April 5 elections to the 550-seat, unicameral House of Representatives, former dictator Suharto’s Golkar party won 128 seats, surpassing President Megawati Sukarnoputri’s ruling Indonesian Democracy Party of Struggle, which won 109 seats. The United Development Party received 58 seats; the Democrat Party, 57; the National Awakening Party and the National Mandate Party, 52 seats each; and the Prosperous Justice Party, 45 seats. The makeup of the governing coalition will be determined by the outcome of the presidential election scheduled for July 5.
Macedonia: Early elections were called in order to replace former president Boris Trajkovski, who died in a plane crash on February 26. In the April 14 first round, former prime minister Branko Crvenkovski of the Social Democratic Union of Macedonia won 42 percent of the votes; Sasko Kedev [End Page 175] of the Democratic Party for Macedonian National Unity won 34 percent; Gzim Ostreni of the Democratic Union for Integration won 15 percent; and Zidi Xhelili of the Democratic Party of Albanians won 9 percent. In the April 28 runoff, Crvenkovski defeated Kedev, receiving 63 percent of the vote.
Malawi:In May 20 parliamentary elections, the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) won 59 seats in the 193-seat National Assembly, followed by the United Democratic Front (UDF) with 49 seats, independents with 38, and the Mgwirizano coalition with 27. In a concurrent presidential election, the UDF’s Bingu wa Mutharika won 35 percent of the vote, defeating the MCP’s John Tembo and Mgwirizano’s Gwanda Chakuamba, who received 27 and 26 percent, respectively. Election observers deemed the voting “free but not fair,” and opposition parties demanded a review of the entire electoral process. Mutharika succeeds the UDF’s Bakili Muluzi, who was constitutionally prohibited from running for a third term.
Malaysia: In March 21 elections to the 219-seat House of Representatives, 198 seats went to the National Front (a gain of 50 seats), led by Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who succeeded Mahatir bin Mohamad in October 2003. The Democratic Action Party won 12 seats, and the Alternative Front won 8 seats (a loss of 19).
Panama: In a May 2 presidential election, Martín Torrijos—the son of former dictator Omar Torrijos Herrera—of the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) won 46 percent of the vote, defeating former president Guillermo Endara of the Solidarity Party (PS), who received 29 percent. In elections to the 78-seat Legislative Assembly held on the same day, the PRD won 40 seats, incumbent president Mireya Moscoso’s Arnulfist Party garnered 17 seats, and the PS won 8 seats. Remaining seats went to smaller parties.
Philippines: Presidential and legislative elections were held on May 16. Although unofficial returns indicate that incumbent Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo defeated challenger Fernando Poe for the presidency, a dispute in Congress delayed the official counting of the vote. Results will be reported in a future issue.
Russia: President Vladimir Putin was reelected on March 14 with 71.3 percent of the vote. His closest challenger, Nikolai M. Kharitonov of the Communist Party, received 13.7 percent. For more information, see the cluster of articles on “Russian Democracy in Eclipse” on pp. 20-77 of this issue.
Slovakia: In a presidential runoff held on April 17, Ivan Gaparovic of the Movement for Democracy defeated authoritarian former prime minister Vladimír Meèiar of the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia with 60 percent, thereby replacing incumbent president Rudolf Schuster of the Party of [End Page 176] Civic Understanding. In the April 3 first round, Meèiar had won 32.7 percent, and Gasparovic 22.3 percent, closely followed by Eduard Kukan of the Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (22.1 percent).
South Africa:In parliamentary elections held April 14-15, President Thabo Mbeki’s African National Congress picked up 279 of the National Assembly’s 400 seats, a gain of 13. The Democratic Alliance received 50 seats; the Inkatha Freedom Party, 28; the United Democratic Movement, 9; and the Independent Democrats and the New National Party, 7 each. Voter turnout was 77 percent, and international observers reported that the elections had been free and fair. For more information on these elections, see the article by Rod Alence on pp. 78-92 of this issue.
South Korea: In April 15 parliamentary elections, the Uri Party (UD), composed of reformist legislators loyal to impeached president Roh Moo-hyun, won 152 of 299 seats, defeating the long-dominant Grand National Party, which won 121 seats. The Democratic Labor Party received 10 seats; former president Kim Dae-jung’s Millennium Democratic Party, 9; and the United Liberal Democrats, 4. The UD’s success was partly attributed to a public backlash against Roh’s March 12 impeachment.
Sri Lanka: In a bid to break a political stalemate over how to handle peace talks with Tamil Tiger rebels, President Chandrika Kumaratunga dissolved parliament on February 7, calling for snap elections to be held on April 2. In these elections, Kumaratunga’s People’s Alliance won 105 of 225 seats (a gain of 28), while the United National Party of outgoing prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe won 82 seats (a loss of 27). The Tamil National Alliance garnered 22 seats, while 9 seats went to the National Heritage Party and 5 to the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress. Despite numerous reports of election rigging, international observers stated that the vote went far more smoothly than previous elections.
Taiwan: In the March 20 presidential election, incumbent Chen Shui-bian of the Democratic Progressive Party was reelected with 50.1 percent, a margin of only 0.2 percent (30,000 votes) over Lien Chan of the Nationalist Party. Chan protested the election results, insisting that the balloting was full of irregularities and that the results were unfairly affected by the election-eve assassination attempt on Chen and Vice-President Annette Lu.
(July 2004-June 2005)
Afghanistan: presidential and legislative, September 2004
Albania: parliamentary, June 2005 [End Page 177]
Belarus: parliamentary, October 2004
Bosnia and Herzegovina: parliamentary, November 2004
Botswana: legislative, October 2004
Bulgaria: parliamentary, June 2005
Czech Republic: parliamentary (senate), November 2004
Ethiopia: parliamentary, May 2005
Ghana: presidential and legislative, December 2004
Hungary: presidential, June 2005
Indonesia: presidential, 5 July 2004
Kyrgyzstan: parliamentary, February 2005
Lebanon: parliamentary, August 2004
Lithuania: parliamentary, 19 September 2004
Maldives: legislative, November 2004
Mauritius: parliamentary, September 2004
Mozambique: presidential and parliamentary, 3 December 2004
Namibia: presidential and parliamentary, 15-16 November 2004
Niger: presidential and parliamentary, October 2004
Romania: presidential and parliamentary, 28 November 2004
Slovenia: parliamentary, October 2004
Sudan: legislative, December 2004
Suriname: presidential and legislative, May 2005
Taiwan: parliamentary, 11 December 2004
Thailand: parliamentary, March 2005
Tunisia: presidential and parliamentary, 24 October 2004
Ukraine: presidential, 31 October 2004
Uruguay: presidential and legislative, 31 October 2004
Uzbekistan: parliamentary, December 2004
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 the International Foundation for Election Systems (IFES), 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.