Following keenly contested and closely watched parliamentary
elections held in Cote d'Ivoire on 18th December, the
Commission Electoral Independente (CEI), released official results
on Tuesday 20th December. This was the first election since the
2010-11 violence that had a significant opposition involvement and,
as such, would prove a stern test of the country's political
institutions and inclusiveness.
Final results (excluding one seat
where there was a dead heat) have been declared in the
parliamentary elections that were held in Cote d'Ivoire on 18th
December. Voting was carried out in a largely peaceful and
transparent manner although some reports of small clashes and
attempted electoral fraud were reported by the main domestic
observation group, Plateforme des Organisations de la Societe
Civile pour l'Observation des Elections en Cote d'Ivoire
(POECI). One negative outcome was the low turnout of 34.1% which is
higher than was feared at one point but still lower than the 2011
legislative elections that saw a turnout of 36.58%
As expected, the main Rassemblement
des houphouetistes pour la democratie et la paix (RHDP) alliance
won a very comfortable majority with 167 seats. Crucially, this is
three seats short of having an absolute majority of two thirds. An
absolute majority would have allowed the government to make
constitutional amendments unopposed. The group making the biggest
gains in these elections is the independent candidates. The
independents have increased their tally from 35 seats in the last
national assembly to 75.
The largest disappointment of the
elections came from the opposition Front Populaire Ivoirien (FPI)
which was only able to attain three seats in the National Assembly.
This is the first election since the end of the violence in 2011
that saw any significant opposition involvement (187 candidates
fielded) so much was expected of the party. However, visibly, the
FPI's internal struggles proved too much to inspire the
electorate's confidence in it.
These results are very positive for the short-medium term
prospects of the country. Aside from any major violence and
confrontations being averted, for all intents and purposes, the
status quo has been maintained so we are unlikely to see any
sweeping changes in either policy or personnel. During the campaign
period, President Ouattara called for a strong majority for the
ruling coalition to allow him to "accelerate the work that I
have as a goal for the next four years". We can expect to see
strong infrastructural development such as the US$ 110m
"special plan" Ouattara announced for Abobo (north of
Abidjan) earlier this month, particularly in government stronghold
The allegiance of independent candidates could be a potential
hindrance to the plans of the government. Many of the independent
candidates are members of the UPCI (part of the broader RHDP
alliance) who were not selected to represent the RHDP due to the
imposition of candidates by the leading party in the coalition,
Ouattara's Rassemblement des Republicains (RDR) party. If they
toe the party line, however, the RHDP will secure its absolute
majority. This is the most likely outcome given that MPs will need
to collaborate closely with government to carry out development in
their constituencies . With only three extra seats required, it is
likely that the government will attain their two thirds
While the holding of another peaceful and successful election is
an achievement that must be lauded, a deeper look must be taken at
the state of political participation in Cote d'Ivoire. In
reality, the country only has one viable standalone party; the
coalition member UPCI chalked up its successes only because of its
affiliation to the RHDP and the FPI's divisions are crippling.
This is leading to significant voter apathy, especially among the
youth of the country who feel that a vote for any opposition party
is instantly a wasted vote. Whilst speaking to a reporter from
Jeune Afrique on election day, one potential voter said that he
would "not waste his fuel and time for people that don't
remember us other than during elections." A polling agent in
Abobo also said "people are saying they don't have a stake
and that the game is already over."
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