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Politics of Madagascar

In March 1998, Malagasy voters approved a revised constitution. The principal institutions of the Republic of Madagascar are a presidency, a parliament (National Assembly and Senate), a prime ministry and cabinet, and an independent judiciary. The president is elected by direct universal suffrage for a 5-year term, renewable twice.

The National Assembly consists of 150 representatives elected by direct vote every 5 years. The Senate consists of 90 senators, two-thirds elected by local legislators and one-third appointed by the president, all for 6-year terms. A Prime Minister and council of ministers carries out day-to-day management of government. The President appoints the Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister and members of Parliament initiate legislation and the government executes it. The President can dissolve the National Assembly. For its part, the National Assembly can pass a motion of censure and require the Prime Minister and council of ministers to step down. The Constitutional Court approves the constitutionality of new laws.

Territorial administration is to be determined by legislation. In an effort to decentralize administration, the constitution calls for the six provinces (faritany) to become autonomous.

Madagascar's first President, Philibert Tsiranana[?], was elected when his Social Democratic Party gained power at independence in 1960 and was reelected without opposition in March 1972. However, he resigned only 2 months later in response to massive antigovernment demonstrations. The unrest continued, and Tsiranana's successor, Gen. Gabriel Ramanantsoa[?], resigned on February 5, 1975, handing over executive power to Lt. Col. Richard Ratsimandrava[?], who was assassinated 6 days later. A provisional military directorate then ruled until a new government was formed in June 1975, under Admiral Didier Ratsiraka[?].

During the 16 subsequent years of President Ratsiraka's rule, Madagascar continued under a government committed to revolutionary socialism based on the 1975 constitution establishing a highly centralized state. National elections in 1982 and 1989 returned Ratsiraka for a second and third 7-year presidential term. For much of this period, only limited and restrained political opposition was tolerated, with no direct criticism of the president permitted in the press.

With an easing of restrictions on political expression, beginning in the late 1980s, the Ratsiraka regime came under increasing pressure for fundamental change. In response to a deteriorating economy, Ratsiraka had begun relaxing socialist dogma to institute some liberal, private-sector reforms. But these and other political reforms--like the elimination of press censorship in 1989 and the formation of more political parties in 1990--were insufficient to placate a growing opposition force known as Hery Velona[?] or "Active Forces," centered in the capital city and the surrounding high plateau.

In response to largely peaceful mass demonstrations and crippling general strikes, Ratsiraka replaced his prime minister in August 1991 but suffered an irreparable setback soon thereafter when his troops fired on peaceful demonstrators marching on his suburban palace, killing more than 30.

In an increasingly weakened position, Ratsiraka acceded to negotiations on the formation of a transitional government. The resulting "Panorama Convention[?]" of October 31, 1991, stripped Ratsiraka of nearly all of his powers, created interim institutions, and set an 18-month timetable for completing a transition to a new form of constitutional government. The High Constitutional Court was retained as the ultimate judicial arbiter of the process.

In March 1992, a new constitution was drafted by a widely representative National Forum organized by the Malagasy Christian Council of Churches[?] (FFKM). Troops guarding the proceedings clashed with pro-Ratsiraka "federalists" who tried to disrupt the forum in protest of draft constitutional provisions preventing the incumbent president from running again. The text of the new constitution was put to a nationwide referendum in August 1992 and approved by a wide margin, despite efforts by federalists to disrupt balloting in several coastal areas.

Presidential elections were held on November 25, 1992, after the High Constitutional Court had ruled, over Active Forces objections, that Ratsiraka could become a candidate. A runoff election was held in February 1993, and active forces leader Albert Zafy[?] defeated Ratsiraka. He was sworn in as President on March 27, 1993.

A nationwide legislative election was held in June 1993 to elect a new National Assembly, which, under the new constitution, exercises legislative initiative along with the Prime Minister, whom it elects.

The proportional representation system for the election of legislators contributed to a significant increase in the number of political parties and special interest groups. These and a free press promote open and lively discussion of political issues in Madagascar.

Country name:
conventional long form: Republic of Madagascar
conventional short form: Madagascar
local long form: Republique de Madagascar (French); Repoblikan'i Madagasikara (Malagasy)
local short form: Madagascar; Madagasikara
former: Malagasy Republic

Data code: MA

Government type: republic

Capital: Antananarivo

Administrative divisions: 6 provinces (faritany); Antananarivo, Antsiranana, Fianarantsoa, Mahajanga, Toamasina, Toliara

Independence: 26 June 1960 (from France)

National holiday: Independence Day, 26 June (1960)

Constitution: 19 August 1992 by national referendum

Legal system: based on French civil law system and traditional Malagasy law; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal

Executive branch:
chief of state: President Didier RATSIRAKA (since 10 February 1997)
head of government: Prime Minister Tantely Rene Gabriot ANDRIANARIVO (since NA 1998)
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the prime minister
elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term; election last held 29 December 1996 (next to be held NA 2002); prime minister appointed by the president from a list of candidates nominated by the National Assembly
election results: Didier RATSIRAKA elected president; percent of vote - Didier RATSIRAKA (AREMA) 50.7%, Albert ZAFY (AFFA) 49.3%

Legislative branch: unicameral National Assembly or Assemblee Nationale (150 seats; members are directly elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms); note - the legislature is scheduled to become a bicameral Parliament with the establishment of a Senate; two-thirds of the seats of this Senate will be filled by regional assemblies whose members will be elected by popular vote; the remaining one-third of the seats will be appointed by the president; the total number of seats will be determined by the National Assembly; all members will serve four-year terms
elections: National Assembly - last held 17 May 1998 (next to be held NA 2002)
election results: National Assembly - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - AREMA 63, LEADER/Fanilo 16, AVI 14, RPSD 11, AFFA 6, MFM 3, AKFM/Fanavaozana 3, GRAD/Iloafo 1, Fihaonana 1, independents 32

Judicial branch: Supreme Court or Cour Supreme; High Constitutional Court or Haute Cour Constitutionnelle

Political parties and leaders: Action, Truth, Development, and Harmony or AFFA [Professor Albert ZAFY]; Association for the Rebirth of Madagascar or AREMA [Pierrot RAJAONARIVELO]; Congress Party for Malagasy Independence or AKFM/Fanavaozana [Pastor Richard ANDRIAMANJATO]; Economic Liberalism and Democratic Action for National Recovery or LEADER/Fanilo [Herizo RAZAFIMAHALEO]; Fihaonana Rally or Fihaonana [Guy RAZANAMASY]; Group of Reflection and Action for the Development of Madagascar or GRAD/Iloafo [Tovonanahary RABETSITONTA]; Judged by Your Work or AVI [Norbert RATSIRAHONANA]; Movement for the Progress of Madagascar or MFM [Manandafy RAKOTONIRINA]; National Union for Development and Democracy or UNDD; Renewal of the Social Democratic Party or RPSD [Evariste MARSON]

Political pressure groups and leaders: Federalist Movement; National Council of Christian Churches or FFKM

International organization participation: ACCT, ACP, AfDB, CCC, ECA, FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, InOC, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, IOM (observer), ISO (correspondent), ITU, NAM, OAU, OPCW, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UPU, WCL, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO

Flag description: two equal horizontal bands of red (top) and green with a vertical white band of the same width on hoist side

See also : Madagascar



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