El Giramundo – Elections in Senegal, Democracy in Danger – PediMedia Polls


Senegalese citizens go to the polls on March 24 to elect their fifth president. Senegal is one of the few African countries where democracy has been able to successfully establish itself. A country in which there have never been coups, and which has been a multi-party democracy for 43 years, where power is transferred from one government to another peacefully after free elections. Leopold Senghor The first president after independence, he resigned in 1981 and handed over the position of president to his Prime Minister Abdou Diouf. current president, Macy askedHe was democratically elected in March 2012 and re-elected in 2019. How long will this little African miracle last? Ominous clouds threaten Senegal's democracy.

It is an unprecedented election, because for the first time in Senegal's political history, the outgoing head of state will not be renominated. Indeed, President Macky Sall announced in July 2023, after long months of uncertainty, that he would not ultimately run for a third term, citing the “code of honour” even though, according to him, the constitution guaranteed him the right to run for the presidency. . “A second term of five years.” In fact, the Constitution limits the number of consecutive terms to two.

The list of candidates includes the outgoing Prime Minister Amadou Baappointed by President Macky Sall as a candidate for the Benue Buk Yakar presidential coalition, Khalifa askedFormer Minister and Mayor of the capital, Dakar, Idrissa Seckformer Prime Minister under former President Abdallah Wade (2002-2004), who is running for the fourth presidential election in a row and Passero Diomai Faytax inspector, lieutenant and deputy Ousmane SonkoThe most popular opponent of President Macky Sall, who was unable to run due to his imprisonment.

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The case of Ousmane Sonko is symptomatic of the danger of authoritarian drift that could affect Senegalese democracy. Sonko was arrested on February 17 on charges of “immoral conduct,” a vague charge that his supporters viewed as politically motivated. Despite his arrest, his Pastif party, a left-wing populist pan-African party, decided last July to nominate him anyway in the presidential elections scheduled for February 25 this year. In response, the government ordered the dissolution of PASTEF. However, the party managed to collect the necessary signatures to nominate its Secretary-General Basseru Diomaye Faye, also imprisoned since April 2023 for criticizing Sonko's prosecution, as its presidential candidate.

On February 3, just hours before the start of the election campaign, President Macky Sall ordered the elections to be postponed indefinitely, citing a parliamentary investigation into two judges in the Constitutional Court. The opposition then organized large popular protests against the cancellation of the elections, which were brutally suppressed by police forces. Parliament, controlled by parties loyal to the president, then decided to hold elections in December. On February 15, Senegal's Constitutional Council ruled that the decision to postpone and reschedule the elections was “contrary to the constitution” and ordered its cancellation. Opposition parties then took to the streets again to demand that elections be held by the end of March, as, according to the constitution, Sall was supposed to leave office by April 2. On March 6, the government scheduled the first round of elections for March 24. Macky Sall also dismissed Amadou Bah from the post of Prime Minister to allow him to focus on his election campaign, and appointed Interior Minister Siddiqui Kaba in his place.

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On 14 March, Ousmane Sonko and Basiru Diomaye Faye were released from prison. Sonko made his first public appearance since his release at a Faye rally on March 15, where he pledged to help him win his presidential campaign.

the systemBut electoral politics

Coat of arms of Senegal.svg

Senegal is a semi-presidential republic, based on a multi-party parliamentary system, where the president, directly elected by the people, is the head of state and the prime minister is the head of government. But executive power is concentrated in the hands of the president.

Legislative power rests with both the government and Parliament, but Parliament rarely introduces new bills or opposes those proposed by the government. The judiciary is formally independent from both the government and Parliament but de facto subject to the authority of the president.

The President of Senegal is elected directly by citizen voters every five years using a double ballot system. A run-off between the two candidates who received the highest votes. The constitution was recently amended, reducing the presidential term from seven years to five years.

The National Assembly's 165 seats are renewed every 5 years with a mixed electoral system. 112 deputies are elected by a single-round majority system in 54 single-member or multi-member constituencies in Senegal's 46 departments. In the case of multi-member constituencies, all candidates of the party that received the largest number of votes are elected. A further 53 deputies are elected by proportional representation in a single national electoral district. Finally, 15 deputies are elected in majority constituencies by Senegalese living abroad.

The Economist Intelligence Unit's Democracy Index classifies Senegal as an “incomplete democracy” on par with countries such as Ecuador, Bhutan, Tunisia and Armenia.

In the following pages, the political history of the country, recent election results, and the main political parties and presidential candidates.

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