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 principle opposition coalitions additionally didn’t 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 primary opposition coalitions, Liberate the Folks (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 have been break up amongst smaller events and coalitions.
Thursday’s outcomes throw yet 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 principle opposition or Sall’s camp could have stays to be seen, as they should courtroom 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 celebration holding the bulk.
“There might be a balancing of political forces,” stated Maurice Soudieck Dione, a political science professor at Senegal’s Gaston Berger College.
“President Sall not has his snug majority, his mechanical majority that allowed him to do no matter he needed.
“There’s going to be an impact of checks and balances,” Dione stated, 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 adjustments throughout Sall’s first time period, many stated he was more likely to argue that such adjustments 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 strain 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 facet.
Outcomes have been initially anticipated Monday, however amid shut margins, voters have 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 Folks known as for the nationwide vote counting fee to droop the announcement of the outcomes so as 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 latest days, however analysts stated that whereas the state of affairs is difficult, no proof of fraud has appeared.
The Collective of Civil Society Organizations for Elections, an area election commentary group backed by worldwide observers, stated truthful elections have 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 listing for Liberate the Folks was thrown out by the constitutional council on a technicality – leaving high-profile candidates resembling Ousmane Sonko, a 2019 presidential contender, off the poll.
Contemplating earlier political rivals to Sall have additionally discovered themselves in jail or with costs levelled in opposition to them, the constitutional council’s resolution was interpreted by some as political interference.
In Sunday’s elections, Liberate the Folks needed to run its substitute listing, largely composed of political outsiders. Sall’s coalition, which needed to drop its substitute listing in one other technicality dinged by the constitutional council, defended the method.
“In the event you make an inventory that doesn’t respect what the legislation says, it’s merely eradicated,” Sall advised 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 – costs he has denied. However the pressure seen between Senegal’s rival politicians was largely absent amongst voters on Sunday, in polls that observers have stated largely went off and not using a hitch.
Although the capital, Dakar, went to the opposition, there have been loads of voters completely happy to solid a vote for Sall’s coalition. Below Sall, Senegal’s economic system grew by greater than 6 p.c every year 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 initiatives, from highways to refurbished regional airports to new bridges, are beneath development across the nation. Off-shore oil and fuel manufacturing has simply kicked off, and a brand new prepare line runs from Dakar by means of its suburbs out to newly constructed stadiums and convention centres on the outskirts of the capital.
“There are loads of issues that have to be achieved, and so they’re behind them,” stated 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 similar time, the rising tide of the economic 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 Avenue hypothesis – has pushed up costs for objects resembling wheat and cooking oil.
Hire, 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.
“All the pieces 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,” stated Oumar Fall, a Senegalese-American who voted overseas from Detroit, Michigan, the place he’s a postal employee.
“There’s the potential for 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 at all times 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 adjustments 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 similar protesters from that 2012 election have been demonstrating over fears Sall will strive the identical factor.
Whereas the opposition didn’t win a majority, some analysts and observers highlighted the very fact Sall’s celebration 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,” stated Badji, the United in Hope voter in Thiaroye.
Bintou Sané, a highschool scholar who voted for Sall’s celebration, added, “We are able to wait, we will see.”