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Madagascar elections: a warning for the current regime?

tana elections Hjk
(photo credit to Harinjaka)

The final results of the municipal elections for Antananarivo, the capital city of Madagascar, were handed out last week. The independent candidate, Andry Rajoelina, won against the candidate of the presidential party, Hery Rafalimanana, in an upset many bloggers perceive as a warning for the current president.

The mayor of Antananarivo is a rather important position in the Malagasy political scene that is often a springboard for higher political aspirations. Indeed, the current president is himself a former mayor of Antananarivo.

Andry Rajoelina, also known as TGV, is a successful young entrepreneur who made his career in the media and communication business.

The unique features of his campaign platform were highlighted by Malagasy blogger, Hery [Mg]:

“Nifantoka be tamin'ny tanora ny fampielezan-keviny na dia hoe eo koa aza ny zavatra hafa izay nampanantenainy [...] Fanorenana toerana azo ilalaovana sy ivelaran'ny sain'ny ankizy, Famitomboana ny toerana hanaovan'ny tanora fanatanjahan-tena sy hianlana voly, Fanomezana “COURS” maimaim-poana ho an'ny mpianatra rehetra manala fanadinana, na CEPE, na BEPC, na BACCALAUREAT izany, Fanafaingana ny fahazoana taratasy isan-karazany”

His platform is focused on youth and taking into account their opinions even though other promises were also made [...] He wants to create centers where children can play and expand their learnings, where youngsters can play organized sports or just entertained themselves. Free courses will be available for all students who are taking national exams whether they are in elementary school, junior high school or high school in order to speed up the process of acquiring diplomas.

Harinjaka tells us why one young voter has made up her mind:

“J’ai voté pour TGV dit-elle parce qu’il est jeune. Nous avons besoin d’enseigner une leçon au régime actuelle et de montrer que nous ne sommes pas aveuglément derrière elle”

I voted for TGV because he is young. We need to teach a lesson to the current regime and let them know that we are not placidly supporting them”.

Not everyone is convinced by Rajoelina's youthful charisma. Thenonrequired sounds skeptical and wished for a more concrete agenda [Fr]:

“Troupe de hira gasy, rangée de mannequins, buffet, 500 invités, entrée au milieu des photographes… Pfff… Ouaip… Pourquoi pas…? Mais à part cela? Et bien à part cela rien! Pas de programme précis mais des formules creuses :
# Je n’ai pas peur.”
# “Il est impensable qu’à notre époque on vive encore dans l’arbitraire et
l’abus de pouvoir”
# “Tout le monde a le droit de gagner son pain”
# “On doit aider la jeunesse à réaliser ses ambitions”

Traditional Malagasy songs, fashion models, all-you-can-eat buffet, 500 invitations, grand entry in the middle of photographers, Sure why not ? But beside that, there is nothing ! No detailed program, only meaningless cliches:
“#I am not afraid,
#It is unthinkable that nowadays, one can still live in an era of authoritarian
regime and abuse of power.
#Everyone is entitled to earn a living.
#we need to help our youth realize their dreams…”

Mialy explains that the city of Antananarivo can be unforgiving at times:

“Fidèle, à ses moments et à sa manière, mais impitoyablement sévère quand elle l’a décidé. Ces derniers mois ont révélé une grogne en sourdine, il fallait la voir venir : Antananarivo était en froid avec la « Tim-mania”

“Loyal, but also unforgivingly severe when she has made up her mind. The last couple of months showed that a roar of disapproval was growing, you had to see it coming: Antananarivo was not in good term with the “TIM-mania” ( TIM is the presidential party)

Jentilisa and Barijaoana give their take on the reasons why the TIM party lost the elections.

Barijaoana quizzed a few voters on the reason for their change of hearts:

“Si on les chatouille un peu plus, ils évoquent surtout le verrouillage pas vraiment subtil du pays : mélange entre intérêts privés et publics favorisé par l'accession des Tiko & Magro boys aux postes étatiques, mainmise sur les échelons administratifs intermédiaires, embrigadement plus ou moins volontaire des fonctionnaires au TIM Education ou au TIM Santé, refus du débat. Par sa seule candidature, Andry TGV a réussi à devenir l'icône glamour des fautes de gouvernance du régime Ravalomanana”

Were we to inquire a little further, they [the voters] would mention the not-so-subtle lock-down of the country: the mixing of private and public interests by promoting the ol’ boys from Tiko and Magro [ the current president has invested interests in both companies] to high-powered positions in the affairs of the State. Additional reasons would be the monopolization of administrative positions at an intermediate level, the forced drafting of personnel in the public service into the TIM Education or TIM Health (presidential party’s think tanks for education or health) and the refusal to debate. With his candidacy, Andry TGV managed to become the glamorous icon that contrasts with the misdeeds of the Ravalomanana government.

Jentilisa outlines a few more reasons for the Presidential party’s defeat:

“Efa be no nametraka tamin’ny mpanadihady fa tsy mba fanaon’Antananarivo loatra izany mifidy ny antoko eo amin’ny fitondrana izany ka mbola hifidy ny Ben’ny tanàna avy amin’io antoko io ihany[..]Mihevitena manko ny sasany fa rehefa ao anatin’ny antoko dia tsimatimanota, ary misy mpiaro hatrany na inona na inona ataony[..] Fahatelo manaraka izany indray dia ny safidy kandidà narotsaka. Tsy tao anatin’ny fanomanana ve fa mety ho olona manam-pahaizana manokana momba ny serasera no hifaninana aminy ka olona votsa vava no narotsaka?”

“Many people have argued that the city of Antananarivo is known for alternating its choice at the top. The city tends to not vote twice for the same party when it comes to presidential and municipal elections [...] Another factor to consider is that is some candidates believe that once you are a member of the party, you have total impunity to do whatever you wish and you are protected comes rain or shine [...] The third reason is the choice of the candidate. Wasn’t it part of the pre-campaign brainstorming to acknowledge that an expert in communication and media would be one of the opposing candidate and that their own candidate is itself not the greatest communicator?”
  • http://jentilisa.blaogy.com jentilisa

    And TGV means “Train à Grande Vitesse” in French… Very Speed Train

  • J Jackson

    What are people in this forum feeling about Marc Ravalomanana these days? What about the election last December that brought him back for another term? What has he shown to the country in this past year? Is it the democracy he brought that is now serving as the check and balances for politicians or was it Zafy who brought this? No matter who you support, it seems choice at the ballot box is really speaking its mind in Madagascar!

  • J Jackson

    I just read Jentilisa’s article about the low turnout and potential fraud of last year’s election and am happy to read that other people who were there monitoring felt that maybe something kolikoly was happening. There was so much opposition leading up to the election, yet an ‘easy’ win for Ravalomanana. This pointed to something like the potential for fraud to many of us, but then again, we wanted to let the HCC do their job. I think the US wanted a smooth election and reinforced the local vote with a vote of their own, which is how le crise 2002 ended in the first place. What is good now, though, is that the mayoral election in Tana seems like democracy is prevailing. Eventually, the valalabemandry speak, n’est pas?

  • http://jentilisa.blaogy.com jentilisa

    I think there wasn’t any kolikoly (pot de vin or corruption) but some people who were too greedy and wanted the power in any manner to snatch it

  • Pingback: Global Voices Online » Madagascar: Negotiations canceled as unrest spreads

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