Madagascar has been in crisis since 2009 after an unconstitutional take-over by current President Rajoelina supported by the military, ousting former President Ravalomanana who has been living in exile ever since. The coup triggered turmoil and scared away investors and tourists from the island. The 25 October presidential election – in which 33 candidates participated - is part of a political roadmap signed in 2011 and mediated by the SADC (South African Development Community), with the intention of restoring order. However, neither Rajoelina nor Ravalomanana were allowed by the international community to stand, which means that the elections are fought by their proxy candidates. Former finance minister Rajaonarimampianina represents Rajoelina’s party while former health minister Robinson represents Ravalomanana’s party. The election was poorly organised and the electoral commission struggled to involve rural areas in the process. Nevertheless, according to international observers the first round was peaceful, while certain shortcomings did prevent some people from casting their vote and there were questions arising on unequal campaign spending. Final results on the first round are not available yet (expected on 23 November), though the two frontrunners anticipate a second-round runoff in December 2013.

Impact on country risk

Since the 2009 coup, Madagascar has experienced an economic slump while poverty aggravated and donor aid was suspended (once making up for 40% of the budget). FDI stalled too, partly out of distrust for doing business with an illegitimate regime. A credible and peaceful poll would be an important step towards revitalizing the economy by luring back tourists and investors. However, a runoff between the two frontrunners in two months will increase the risk for violent demonstrations and forceful crackdowns by security forces as we have seen already in the past.

Analyst: Louise Van Cauwenbergh, l.vancauwenbergh@credendogroup.com