Dakar, Senegal – After a tense few days of ready for a winner in Sunday’s legislative elections, provisional outcomes launched confirmed President Macky Sall’s governing coalition misplaced its majority in a ballot pitched by opposition teams as a referendum on his insurance policies and potential third-term aspirations.
Nevertheless, the primary opposition coalitions additionally did not win a majority of the Nationwide Meeting’s 165 seats. Sall’s coalition, United in Hope (Benno Bokk Yakaar, within the Wolof language) gained 82 of the meeting’s 165 seats, one shy of a majority.
The principle opposition coalitions, Liberate the Individuals (Yewwi Askan Wi) and Save Senegal (Wallu Senegal), working in an alliance, gained 56 and 24 seats, respectively, for a complete of 80. The remaining three seats had been break up amongst smaller events and coalitions.
Thursday’s outcomes throw one more twist onto an already suspense-filled week following the high-stakes Sunday polls. How the varied teams will govern and the way a lot affect the primary opposition or Sall’s camp could have stays to be seen, as they should court docket the three remaining legislators.
Senegal has by no means earlier than had a Nationwide Meeting with out an outright majority, and a Senegalese president has by no means ruled with out his get together holding the bulk.
“There can be a balancing of political forces,” mentioned Maurice Soudieck Dione, a political science professor at Senegal’s Gaston Berger College.
“President Sall not has his comfy majority, his mechanical majority that allowed him to do no matter he wished.
“There’s going to be an impact of checks and balances,” Dione mentioned, including the “presidentialisation” of the legislative marketing campaign by the opposition – that’s, making the elections a referendum on Sall – was a profitable technique.
A backdrop of democratic backsliding in Senegal had, for a lot of, elevated the stakes of Sunday’s vote. After constitutional modifications throughout Sall’s first time period, many mentioned he was more likely to argue that such modifications successfully reset his time in workplace, permitting him to pursue one other mandate in 2024 regardless of being restricted to serving two phrases.
The opposition hoped a majority within the Nationwide Meeting would complicate such a transfer. For years now, Sall has repeatedly declined to remark publicly on whether or not he would search a 3rd time period, placing many on edge.
The stress between Sall’s camp and the opposition arose quickly after Sunday’s voting ended, when Sall’s coalition declared victory within the early morning hours of Monday.
The opposition coalitions rejected the transfer as untimely – and later claimed victory for his or her aspect.
Outcomes had been initially anticipated Monday, however amid shut margins, voters had been caught ready as administrative division vote counts got here in individually, in a gradual drip.
As extra votes trickled in all through the week, it began to seem like the opposition had the sting. Earlier than Thursday’s outcomes, consideration had turned to the northern area of Saint Louis.
Liberate the Individuals known as for the nationwide vote counting fee to droop the announcement of the outcomes to be able to give the opposition an opportunity to look into allegations of fraud and irregularities in some northern polling stations, however the request was rejected.
Allegations within the press and suspect movies on Twitter have circulated in current days, however analysts mentioned that whereas the scenario is sophisticated, no proof of fraud has appeared.
The Collective of Civil Society Organizations for Elections, a neighborhood election statement group backed by worldwide observers, mentioned honest elections had been held with minimal disruptions.
Protests forward of elections
Protests sprung up in Dakar and across the nation within the lead-up to the vote when the candidate record for Liberate the Individuals was thrown out by the constitutional council on a technicality – leaving high-profile candidates similar to Ousmane Sonko, a 2019 presidential contender, off the poll.
Contemplating earlier political rivals to Sall have additionally discovered themselves in jail or with expenses levelled in opposition to them, the constitutional council’s resolution was interpreted by some as political interference.
In Sunday’s elections, Liberate the Individuals needed to run its substitute record, largely composed of political outsiders. Sall’s coalition, which needed to drop its substitute record in one other technicality dinged by the constitutional council, defended the method.
“For those who make an inventory that doesn’t respect what the legislation says, it’s merely eradicated,” Sall informed French broadcaster Radio France Worldwide. “It’s powerful, however that’s the legislation.”
Protesters additionally took to the streets in Dakar and cities across the nation final yr when Sonko was arrested for rape – expenses he has denied. However the stress seen between Senegal’s rival politicians was largely absent amongst voters on Sunday, in polls that observers have mentioned largely went off with no hitch.
Although the capital, Dakar, went to the opposition, there have been loads of voters blissful to solid a vote for Sall’s coalition. Beneath Sall, Senegal’s financial system grew by greater than 6 p.c annually from 2014 to 2018.
Even amid an financial downturn in 2018 – then adopted by the COVID-19 pandemic – the nation’s GDP continued to take care of optimistic, if hampered, development.
A lot-needed infrastructure tasks, from highways to refurbished regional airports to new bridges, are beneath development across the nation. Off-shore oil and gasoline manufacturing has simply kicked off, and a brand new prepare line runs from Dakar via its suburbs out to newly constructed stadiums and convention centres on the outskirts of the capital.
“There are a variety of issues that should be performed, and so they’re behind them,” mentioned Daouda Banji, a United in Hope voter sitting within the courtyard of a center faculty that doubled as a polling centre on Sunday within the crowded suburb of Thiaroye. “They’re working for our nation.”
On the identical time, the rising tide of the financial system has not lifted all boats equally. Whereas the nation has rebounded from the worst of the pandemic, worldwide inflation – a fallout of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, COVID-induced provide chain woes, and Wall Road hypothesis – has pushed up costs for gadgets similar to wheat and cooking oil.
Lease, cost-of-living points, and unemployment are longstanding points amongst involved residents. Different entrenched points stay unsolved: This spring, battle heated up once more between the Senegalese military and separatist rebels within the Casamance area, the place after 40 years of peace continues to look elusive.
In July, as seasonal rains swamped Dakar, some neighbourhoods discovered themselves underwater regardless of repeated guarantees to enhance town’s and surrounding suburbs’ infrastructure.
“Every thing that occurs on the Nationwide Meeting, it’s Macky Sall who decides … I’m voting within the first place for the individuals to have illustration within the Nationwide Meeting,” mentioned Oumar Fall, a Senegalese-American who voted overseas from Detroit, Michigan, the place he’s a postal employee.
“There’s the opportunity of a 3rd time period [for Sall], which might plunge the nation into chaos.”
Senegal’s Nationwide Meeting has 97 legislators elected by a majority of their division and 53 elected by proportional illustration. One other 15 legislators are elected by Senegalese residing overseas.
Whereas the nation is famous for its political stability, that has not all the time been equal to a wholesome democracy: Sall got here to energy after defeating then-President Abdoulaye Wade throughout a third-term run by the incumbent, who used modifications to the structure as an excuse to reset his time in workplace.
Senegalese took to the streets and the poll field to reject Wade, and most of the identical protesters from that 2012 election have been demonstrating over fears Sall will attempt the identical factor.
Whereas the opposition did not win a majority, some analysts and observers highlighted the very fact Sall’s get together misplaced its majority bodes in poor health for any third-term presidential makes an attempt.
On Sunday, some supporters famous their votes for United in Hope weren’t essentially votes for a 3rd time period for Sall.
“These are the presidential elections – it’s not time for that but,” mentioned Badji, the United in Hope voter in Thiaroye.
Bintou Sané, a highschool pupil who voted for Sall’s get together, added, “We are able to wait, we will see.”