Africa, Politics

A brief look: Island elections show how it should be done

By Simon Allison 8 August 2011

It’s not all sunshine and sangria in the Portuguese-flavoured Atlantic islands of Cape Verde and Sao Tome & Principe. Somebody’s got to keep the place going while the tourists enjoy their island paradise, and it’s not as easy a job as you might think. But with successful elections this weekend in both countries, it looks like plain sailing ahead. By SIMON ALLISON.

Although Africa’s small island countries tend to be well-governed, with four of them in the top 11 spots in the Ibrahim Index of African Governance, their size should not detract from the achievement of building and maintaining a democratic, stable government which increases wealth and prosperity all round. After all, the Comoros hasn’t managed it, with the country subject to a number of coups and instability over the years.

This weekend saw elections in two island countries: Cape Verde and Sao Tome & Principe. The elections in Cape Verde whittled down the contestants to two, after no one achieved an absolute majority. The opposition candidate is a few percentage points in front of the ruling party’s candidate, and run-off elections between the two will be held on 21 August. Who the third-place finisher, Aristides Lima, pledges his support will likely determine the final placings. This is difficult to predict, because although Lima is a ruling party stalwart, he chose to contest the elections as an independent after he didn’t receive the party’s nominations. Now, as kingmaker, his ultimate loyalty to the party will be tested.

The first round of Sao Tome’s elections was last month, and this weekend’s vote was a straightforward decision between the island’s post-independence (and pre-democracy) president Pinto Da Costa and the current speaker of parliament. Da Costa wasn’t even meant to be running, but took his party’s nomination after the previous nominee was withdrawn thanks to some voting irregularities at the party convention. Not that it hurt the party –Da Costa won the election with 52.88% of the vote. He’s promised to focus on improving Sao Tome’s economy, and further developing its tourism industry. DM

Read more:

  • Sao Tome’s Pinto da Costa wins presidential run-off, on Reuters Africa;
  • Cape Verde votes for New President, on AFP; and
  • Cape Verde heads to presidential run-off, on VOA.

Photo: Cabo Verde by Dickdotcom.



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