Democracy and Elections in Cape Verde and Guinea-Bissau

by Richard Lobban

African Studies and Anthropology, Rhode Island College


Paper presented on 12 February 1996,

Watson Institute, Brown University

Introduction


Much of the news from Africa presents grim realities of civil strife, ethnic cleansing, military despots, social oppression, and grinding poverty. However the news is not all bad. In the case of Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde, which won their independence through armed struggle in the forest of "Portuguese" Guinea from 1963 to 1974, the post independence period has been orderly with the sole exception of a relatively bloodless coup in Bissau in 1980. On the other hand, it is important to note that the process of political mobilization in Guinea through the war of national liberation did not take place in Cape Verde, so the deeper political roots of the Partido Africano da Independência de Guiné e Cabo Verde (PAIGC) did not grow. Moreover, the subsistence-based economy of Guinea can be contrasted with the commercial economy of Cape Verde. From 1975 to 1991 the centralized state-planned economy of Cape Verde restricted this commerce while the counterpart in Guinea provided more of an economic safety net.

More remarkable is that the transition to full-scale plural democracy has been bloodless. This stands as much as an exception as well as a model to those African states which wish to move from one party rule to political pluralism and from essentially military rule to secular and democratic societies. Even a new maritime border treaty between Guinea-Bissau and Guinea-Conakry has been concluded without conflict.

In the present African context these achievements deserve close scrutiny and wide application to break the tragic cycle of successive military regimes and ethnic tyrannies. It seems that democratic federalism of one sort or another is one of the few routes to civil peace, collective development, and individual rights. Thus, this paper takes a close look at these two West African nations which had been joined politically from 1975 to 1980 and have notable affinities in the period ever since, especially in the PAIGC/PAICV party which was founded by one of Africa's greatest revolutionary theoreticians, the Cape Verdean Amilcar Cabral.

The First Multi-Party Elections in Cape Verde


Since the 1975 election/referendum which voted exclusively for PAIGC candidates (within a constitutional one-party state) there were no other major elections in Cape Verde, except for delegates to the Assembleia Nacional Popular (ANP). This was changed in 1991 when the PAICV allowed constitutional revisions permitting an opposition party, the MpD, to run for the 79 seats in the ANP, and to have an independent candidate run for President. These elections took place on 13 January 1991 and resulted in the MpD winning 56 seats and the PAICV only 23. The validity of the elections was judged by international observers and the fact that the ruling party was voted out of power.

1991 Cape Verde Election Results


Islands Electoral Seats PAICV MPD
Boa Vista São João Baptista/ Santa Isabel 2 0
Brava São João Baptista/ N.S. Do Monte11
Fogo N.S. Ajuda
N.S. Conceição/ Santa Catarinha
S. Lorenço
2
2
1
0
1
1
Maio N.S. Da Luz11
Sal N.S. Das Dores11
São Tiago Praia Urbano
Praia Rural I
Praia Rural II
S. Catarina
S. Salvador do Mundo
S. Lorenço dos Orgãos/ São Tiago Maior
S. Amaro Abade/ S. Miguel
4
0
1
1
0
1
1
8
2

1
5
2
4
4
Santo Antao N.S. do Livramento/ N.S. Do Rosario
S. Crucifixo/ S. Pedro Apostolo
S. Antonio Das Pombas
S. Andre
S. João Baptista
0
0
0
0
0
2
2
2
2
2
S. Nicolau N.S. Do Rosário
N.S. Da Lapa
1
0
2
2
S. Vicente N.S. Da Luz 2 10
Diaspora: Africa
America
Europe
1
1
0
0
0
1
TOTALS 23 56

Electoral Notes: (The abbreviation S. stands for São/Santo or Saint; the letters N.S. stand for Nossa Senhora or Our Lady.)

Cape Verdean-Americans and emigrants tended to support the PAICV. The Comissao Eleitoral Nacional (CEN) reported 15-20 percent abstentions, and 159,988 registered voters in the islands and 6,830 among the emigrants. The MpD opposition won 69 percent of votes, PAICV had 22 percent. Three seats in the National Assembly were reserved for emigrants, i.e., 2 for the PAICV from Africa and America, and one for the MpD from Europe.

In the direct popular vote for the separate Presidential elections in February 1991, the CEN announced 72 percent of the votes for António Mascarenhas Monteiro and 26.2 percent for Aristides Pereira. Of the 159,667 registered voters Monteiro got 70,582 and Pereira got 25,722. There were also 372 blank votes at 0.28 percent, and 1,363 nullified votes at 1.39 percent. Elections were calm and tranquil. Former Prime Minister Pedro Pires (q.v.) said that despite the outcome, the elections represented a victory for pluripartidarismo (multi-partyism). Pires did claim that Bishop D. Paulino Evora encouraged voters to turn toward the MpD; now Pires considers himself a member of the loyal opposition.

In the urban area of Praia the vote was 70 percent for Monteiro and in S. Catarina it was 89 percent. There was also strong support for Monteiro in São Vicente and Santo Antao. Monteiro was projected as the candidate for youth and for change. He had been briefly in the PAIGC but left for his studies in Belgium. He had been Judge-President of the Supreme Court of Justice for the last ten years. After the MpD electoral victory of 13 January 1991, a new government was formed on 17 February 1991.

The First Multi-Party Elections in Guinea-Bissau


At independence, multi-party elections in Guinea-Bissau were excluded by the one-party state. However, in the democratic reforms in the early l990's the legal provisions were changed to allow this possibility. Elections were promised and postponed in 1993 and 1994, and it appeared that they would be delayed again. At last, on 3 July 1994 the elections were held. The elections provided a plurality for the ruling party but they did not provide the required majority margins. This necessitated a run-off election, but the two leading candidates, João 'Nino' Vieira of the PAIGC and Kumba Yala of the Partido da Renovação Social ( PRS ) . The results of the Legislative and Presidential elections follow.

1. Results of the Guinea-Bissau Legislative Elections,
3 July 1994


Party Votes Percentage Deputies
PAIGC 143,982 37.92 62
RGB/MB 57,566 1 6.17 18
UM 17,797 10.34 6
PRS 29,957 8.42 12
PCD 15,411 4.33 0
PUSD 8,286 2.33 0
FLING 7,475 2.10 1
FGC-SD 494 0.14 0

Notes: Of the 400,000 registered voters, there was an 88.91 turnout. The full names of the parties are found in the list of abbreviations, with the exception of UM which is a coalition of six parties led by Bubacar Djaló, who is the President of Liga Guineense de Protecção Ecológia, LIPE (q.v.). The UM coalition consists of the Frente Democratica, the Frente Democratica Social, LIPE, the Movimento para a Unidade e Democracia, the Partido Democrático para Progresso, and the Partido para Renovação e Desenvolvimento.

11. Results of the Guinea-Bissau Presidential Elections,
3 July 1994


Candidate Party Votes Percentage
Nino Vieira PAIGC 142,577 46.20
Kumba Yala PRS 67,518 21.88
Domingos Fernandes RGB/MB 53,825 17.44
Carlos Gomes PCD 15,645 5.07
François Mendy FLING 8,655 2.80
Bubacar Djal6 UM 8,506 2.76
Victor S. Maria PUSD 6,388 2.07
Antonieta R. Gomes FCG-SD 5,509 1.79 .

Notes: See above notes for full party names. Carlos Gomes (PCD) was an independent candidate supported only by PCD whose leader, Victor Mandinga, was not eligible to run for President under the current election laws, which require that both parents of the candidate be Guineans born in the country. The overall turnout was 89.3% of the eligible voters.

The very surprising result of this part of the election was the much underestimated young candidate of the PRS, Rumba Yala. The demography of Guinea-Bissau shows that more that fifty-six percent of the population was born after independence in 1973. Bissau itself has a population heavily composed of youth. Election laws required a run-off election if the greatest percentage of votes cast for President did not exceed fifty percent. Thus, the incumbent President Vieira was required to face Kumba Yala in a second run-off election scheduled for 7 August 1994. 111.

III. Results of the Second Round Presidential Elections.



Region Vieira Yala Location
Tombali 9,337 12,093 South/Frontier
Quinara 8,450 6,003 Central
Oio 19,400 31,588 North/Central
Biombo 14,145 4,699 Central/Coast
Bolama/Bijagós 9,866 877 Archipelago
Bafata 24,788 16,715 Central/East
Gabu 24,105 14,130 Far East
Cacheu 13,572 20,160 NW coast/Frontier
Bissau 36,267 41,253 urban central
Total 159,930 147,518
Percentage (52.02%) (47.98)

Notes: These results have been much contested by the coalition built among supporters of Kumba Yala. They claim that they have won instead. Yala hardly campaigned in the Bolama area. Supporters of the PAIGC have been celebrating with great enthusiasm, including congratulations from the heads of State of Senegal, France, Cape Verde, and Portugal.

THE SECOND MULTIPARTY ELECTIONS IN CAPE VERDE


In December 1995 the second Cape Verdean general legislative Elections were held. Widespread predictions suggested that the MpD would suffer a notable loss of popularity from the first election and that the PAICV would have some notable recovery. The participation of additional parties (the PCD, UCID, and PSP was believed that they would gain support at the expense of the MPD. The actual results were quite different in fact. The margin of victory for the MpD in the 1991 elections was almost the same in 1995 and likewise the margin of defeat for the PAICV was little changed. Two of the miniority parties (PSP, and UCID) were so humiliated that their political future is at stake. The only party left with any political future was the PCD, which gained support from some few defectors from the MpD and the PCD's Eurico Monteiro has earned himself one legislative seat.

A Comparison of the 1991 and 1995 Cape Verde Elections


1991 Seats 1995 Seats
MpD PAICV MpD PAICV PCD
Number 56 23 50 21 1
Percent 70.8% 29.1% 69.4% 29.1% 1.3% .

Note: the total seats were 79 in 1991 and 72 in 1995.

A Comparison of the 1991 and 1995 Cape Verde Elections
(São Tiago Island ONLY)


1991 Seats 1995 Seats
MpD PAICV MpD PAICV PCD
Number 26 8 23 6 1
Percent 76.4% 23.5 76.6 20.0 3.3%

These results for São Tiago are consistent at the national level. The PAICV only managed to win in Fogo, the home island of the former Prime Minister Pedro Pires. It improved a bit in São Nicolau. Generally the PAICV did not recover from its first defeat and in the case of São Tiago they lost still more, probably to the PCD to some small extent. Everywhere else the MpD kept its former strength or gained a bit except for the small number of defectors to the PCD.

In January 1996 the second phase of the elections was held for the Presidents of the Camaras Municipais (City Mayors). Despite the landslide victory of the MpD in the Legislative Assembly this was not exactly the case for these elections. Here home-boy favorites seemed to play a greater role. Of the sixteen contested seats, eight went to MpD candidates, or only 50% of the positions. These are the Municipal Presidents of Praia, São Domingo, Santa Cruz, Tarrafal, and Santa Catarina, all in São Tiago island as well as Brava, São Nicolau and Porto Novo. The PAICV won in the two Camaras of São Filipe and Mosteiros in Fogo and in the seats in Boa Vista and Sal. The MPRSV led by maverick Mayor Onesimo Silveira won in São Vicente; MPASA, led by Manuel Ribeiro took Maio, and in Santo Antao the town of Paul went to Alcides Tavares and his GIDSP and Ribeira Grande went to Jorge Santos and the GDR. It is apparent that these smaller splinter parties took votes from the MpD, while, overall the PAICV kept the strength it showed in the national legislative elections.

The final round of Cape Verdean elections slated for 18 February 1996 is for the President. Within the Cape Verdean constitution this position is non-partisan and serves mainly as a moderating backup government to the Prime Minister. It appears that the current President Antonio Mascarenhas Monteiro will run unopposed as he is supported by both the PAICV and the MpD as a defender of democracy and human rights. The 1991 defeat of former President Aristides Pereira of the PAICV was a great shock that this party does not wish to repeat. They would probably have little chance in fielding a new candidate associated with their party.

Conclusions


The post independence electoral experiences in Cape Verde and in Guinea-Bissau are deep and genuine. In the Cape Verdean case the ruling party was peacefully voted out of office and this has stayed this way in the second electoral test. In Guinea-Bissau where the political issues between Cape Verdeans and Guineans had been resolved" by demography and a coup, the ruling PAIGC was genuinely opposed by a very wide diversity of parties and the new comers were so well represented that it took a surprising second round of elections to restore the ruling party to its position. In either case, international observers have reported few glaring irregularities but future elections could benefit from more rigorous observation of the election laws.

The old paternalism of the colonial era which suggested the Africans were not ready for independence nor capable of observing democratic institutions has been laid to rest. Other African nations, bedeviled with military despots and ruling cliques could well benefit from the experience in Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde so as to focus more on social and economic development and less or their personal aggrandizement.

Finally it seems that the PAIGC/PAICV in Cape Verde has failed to expand its roots with the people. There was little question that the commercial elites resisted the state planned economy from the very beginning but their resistance was ineffective in the revolutionary moment of decolonization and democratization in Portugal and its former African colonies. However the poor of Cape Verde, especially concentrated in São Tiago, have also been by- passed. Rather than demonstrating that their needs were not being served by the MpD, they were apparently not convinced by the PAICV and the margin for the MpD was solidified.

The effort of the PAICV to market the serious cholera epidemic (hundreds of deaths and thousands of cases), drug and alcohol problems, some crime, and high unemployment as political issues did not catch hold. On the other hand the MpD's ability to attract quite substantial (European) foreign capital within the framework of economic liberalization and privatization has built widespread confidence that this will be a means for economic development and political optimism.

Cape Verde has also carried out an ambitious foreign policy of good neighbors in fishing and maritime agreements, new friends around the world, as well as a positive role on the UN Security Council in matters from Rwandan refugees to Angolan elections. Improved infrastructure in roads, ports, power, and water, expansion of tourism, very liberal investment plans with no taxes and profit repatriation, improved telecommunications and air transport and fishing have earned the MpD a base of popularity strong enough to weather criticism from the opposition. Relative stability in remittances from the Cape Verdean diaspora has also helped the MpD. Perhaps memories of the former, somewhat authoritarian and centralized state of the PAIGC/PAICV may also have lingered in people's minds and the past issues relating to abortion remain important, while the mystery of the death of Renato Cardozo was never resolved. Indeed, it is a much changed unipolar world since the collapse of the Cold War and its polarizing rhetoric on both sides. This has not been to the advantage of the PAICV and its former international alliances. Altogether the PAICV must do more work to regain the confidence of the people.

As is the practice in democratic elections, to the victor go the spoils. The people have spoken. Despite the political pundits, Cape Verde has become a graveyard of electoral prophecies which had predicted a very tight race and a likely weak coalition government would be formed; this has simply not been the case. Congratulations to the MpD for a second time. For "Nino" in Guinea-Bissau, congratulations are also due as he has moved from the military battlefield, to successful coup-maker, and now, finally to become the first legitimately elected President in the nation's entire history.


rlobban@grog.ric.edu

Cape Verde Home Page