Comoros: The first round of voting for the 24 elected seats in the Assembly of the Union was held on January 25. In constituencies where there was no winner in the first round, a second round was held on February 22. The vote was a face-off between President Ikililou Dhoinine’s alliance, the Union for the Development of the Comoros, which won 8 seats, and former president Ahmed Abdallah Mohamed Sambi’s Juwa party, which won 7 seats. The Democratic Rally of the Comoros and the centrist Convention for the Renewal of the Comoros each won 2 seats. The remaining 5 seats went to independent candidates and members of smaller parties. The general election was initially scheduled for early November, but was postponed for two months by President Dhoinine. Minor incidents of violence were reported during the vote.
Croatia: In the January 11 presidential runoff, opposition candidate Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović of the conservative Croatian Democratic Union was elected with 50.7 percent of the vote, barely defeating incumbent Ivo Josipović of the center-left Social Democratic Party of Croatia. The runoff reversed the results of the first round, held on December 28, in which Josipović led with 39 percent, Grabar-Kitarović received 37 percent, Ivan Vilibor Sinčić of the Euroskeptic Živi Zid (Human Blockade) party won 16 percent, and right-leaning candidate Milan Kujundžić (founder of the newly formed populist Croatian Dawn party) won 6 percent.
El Salvador: Voting for the 84 representatives in the unicameral Legislative Assembly was held on March 1. The results were significantly delayed due to technical problems. Early returns indicated a very tight race between the National Republican Alliance (Arena) and the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN). Full results will be reported in a future issue. [End Page 177]
Estonia: In March 1 elections to the 101-seat parliament (Riigikogu), newly elected prime minister Taavi Rõivas’s pro-NATO center-right Estonian Reform Party (RE) won 30 seats, defeating the opposition pro-Russian Center Party (EK), led by Edgar Saavisar, which received 27 seats. The Reform Party’s coalition partner, the center-left Social Democratic Party (SDE), led by Sven Mikser, won 15 seats. The conservative Pro Patria and Res Publica Union (IRL), led by Urmas Reinsalu, won 14 seats. Two smaller parties—the newly formed liberal Free Party, led by Andres Herkel, and the right-wing Conservative People’s Party (VKRE), led by Mart Helme—split the remaining 15 seats. In March 2014, Rõivas was chosen as successor to former prime minister Andrus Ansip, who resigned in an attempt to strengthen his Reform Party in advance of the parliamentary elections.
Lesotho: In early elections held on February 28 for the 120-seat National Assembly, the Democratic Congress of former prime minister Pakalitha Mosisili won 47 seats and 39 percent. Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s All Basotho Convention (ABC) won 46 seats and 38 percent; the pan-African Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) led by Mothetjoa Metsing received 12 seats and 10 percent; and the Basotho National Party (BNP) led by Thesele Maseribane won 7 seats and 6 percent. Six other parties split the remaining 8 seats. The elections had been scheduled for 2017, but were called early after Thabane’s coalition government broke down following an attempted coup last August. A new coalition government was formed by the Democratic Congress, the LCD, and five other smaller parties, with Mosisili as prime minister.
Mauritius: In elections held December 10 for the 70-seat National Assembly, an alliance of the center-left Mauritian Socialist Movement (MSM) and the conservative Mauritian Social Democratic Party (PMSD), led by former president Anerood Jugnauth, won 51 seats and 50 percent. Former prime minister Navinchandra Ramgoolam’s coalition—composed of the Hindu-based Labor Party (MLP) and the radical Mauritian Militant Movement (MMM)—won 16 seats and 39 percent. The separatist Rodriguan People’s Organization (OPR), based on Rodrigues Island, received 2 seats and 1 percent. Voter turnout was reported to be 74 percent.
Nigeria: After having been pushed back a month, presidential elections were scheduled for March 28; results will be reported in a future issue.
Sri Lanka: The January 8 presidential election resulted in a surprise victory for opposition candidate and former health minister Maithripala Sirisena of the New Democratic Front, who narrowly defeated incumbent Mahinda Rajapaksa, leader of the United People’s Freedom Alliance, with 51 percent of the vote. Rajapaksa, who had been in power for a decade, received 48 percent. Rajapaksa called the election nearly two years ahead of schedule [End Page 178] after passing a constitutional amendment allowing him to seek a third term. The unexpected challenge from Sirisena, a member of Rajapaksa’s cabinet, shocked Rajapaksa supporters. Turnout was a record-breaking 82 percent—the highest ever reported in a presidential election.
Tajikistan: In elections held March 1 for the 22 elected seats in the Assembly of Representatives—the Majlisi Namoyandagon—the ruling People’s Democratic Party won 16 seats and 65 percent of the vote. The Agrarian Party won 3 seats and 12 percent, the Party of Economic Reforms won 2 seats and 8 percent, and the Socialist Party won 1 seat and 6 percent. For the first time since the country’s independence in 1991, the two main opposition parties, the Communist Party and the Islamic Revival Party (IRPT) both failed to pass the 5 percent threshold needed to win parliamentary seats. OSCE observers expressed concern about the crackdown on opposition parties, concluding that the vote took place in a “restricted political space” and “failed to provide a level playing field for candidates.” IRPT leader Muhiddin Kabiri rejected the outcome, claiming “the results do not correspond with the facts.”
Tunisia: In the December 21 presidential runoff, former prime minister Beji Caïd Essebsi of the secular Nidaa Tounes (Call for Tunisia) party, won 56 percent of the vote, defeating the incumbent, interim president Moncef Marzouki, who ran as an independent. Marzouki conceded defeat and appealed to protesters in the southern part of the country to accept the election results.
Zambia: In a special election for the presidency on January 20, Edgar Lungu of the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) won with 48 percent of the vote, besting opposition candidate Hakainde Hichilema of the United Party of National Development (UPND), who received 47 percent. The special election was called following the death of former president Michael Sata. None of the nine other candidates received more than one percent of the total vote. Alleging widespread violence during the campaign period and serious irregularities in vote counting, Hichilema rejected the results. The electoral commission was unable to register new voters due to time constraints, relying instead on voter rolls from the 2011 election. As a result, Zambia experienced its lowest voter turnout on record of just 32 percent.
(April 2015–March 2016)
Afghanistan: legislative, by December 2015
Argentina: presidential, 25 October 2015; legislative, by October 2015
Azerbaijan: parliamentary, by November 2015 [End Page 179]
Belarus: presidential, 20 November 2015
Burkina Faso: presidential/parliamentary, 11 October 2015
Burma: legislative, by November 2015
Burundi: legislative, by July 2015; presidential, by December 2015
Chad: legislative, by December 2015
Côte d’Ivoire: presidential, by October 2015
Croatia: parliamentary, by February 2016
Dominica: parliamentary, by December 2015
Egypt: parliamentary, by December 2015
Equatorial Guinea: presidential, by December 2015
Ethiopia: parliamentary, 24 May 2015
Guatemala: presidential/legislative, 13 September 2015
Guinea: presidential, 31 December 2015
Guyana: parliamentary, 11 May 2015
Haiti: parliamentary, 24 April 2015; presidential, by December 2015
Iran: parliamentary, 26 February 2016
Kazakhstan: presidential, by April 2015
Kyrgyzstan: parliamentary, by December 2015
Mexico: legislative, 5 July 2015
Niger: presidential/parliamentary, by December 2015
Nigeria: legislative, 11 April 2015
Oman: parliamentary, by October 2015
Poland: presidential, 17 May 2015; parliamentary, 31 October 2015
Russia: parliamentary, by December 2015
South Sudan: presidential/legislative, 9 July 2015
Sri Lanka: legislative, by April 2015
Sudan: presidential/legislative, 2 April 2015
Suriname: legislative, by May 2015
Tanzania: presidential/legislative, by October 2015
Togo: presidential, 15 April 2015
Trinidad and Tobago: parliamentary, by May 2015
Turkey: parliamentary, 7 June 2015
Uganda: parliamentary, by February 2016
Venezuela: legislative, by December 2015
Election Watch provides reports of recently decided and upcoming elections in developing nations and the postcommunist world. Some of the data for Election Watch come from IFES, a private, nonprofit education and research foundation that assists in monitoring, supporting, and strengthening the mechanics of the electoral process worldwide. For additional information, visit www.ifes.org. [End Page 180]