Elections in two isolated places
Instead of covering the two recent votes of interest in the world in two separate posts, despite the fact that both these places have little in common besides being relatively isolated places few people know much about. These places are Baja California Sur in Mexico and Cape Verde.
Baja California Sur
As mentioned last week in a post on another Mexican state election in Guerrero, Baja California Sur held gubernatorial and local elections on February 6. These are the last ones before the exciting slew of state contests on July 3. Baja California Sur, which covers the southern end of the Baja California peninsula (and includes the touristy spot of Cabo San Lucas), is a sparsely populated, in fact the least populated, state in Mexico which is largely arid and desert. For some reason, the state has been a stronghold of the PRD for at least the last ten years or so, and has had a PRD governor since 1999. In contrast, Baja California (which covers the north of the peninsula) has been a PAN stronghold for ages, making the peninsula one of the few regions where the PRI is exceptionally weak.
Given that weakness, there was no incentive here for a PAN-PRD alliance of the like of the similar alliances cropping up in other states. The PRD candidate was Luis Armando Díaz, supported by the PT. The PRI-PVEM candidate was Ricardo Barroso Agramont. The PAN candidate was Marcos Alberto Covarrubias Villaseñor, a federal deputy for the PRD who left the PRD when he didn’t get their nomination. There was also a Convergencia and PANAL candidate.
Marcos Covarrubias Villaseñor (PAN-PRS) 40.35%
Ricardo Barroso Agramont (PRI-PVEM) 33.52%
Luis Armando Díaz (PRD-PT) 21.41%
Blanca Meza Torres (PANAL) 1.66%
Martín Inzunza Tamayo (Convergencia) 0.5%
This victory is not as much a victory for PAN as a personal victory for the “PAN candidate” who likely took a lot of votes away from the PRD, which finished third, but also from the PRI which had won 36.1% in 2005. The PRI’s result is perhaps the only one which can be interpreted from a partisan viewpoint without being too much off the mark, and from that standpoint the PRI result is certainly disappointing for them. The PRI’s great success in national polling for 2012 is hardly seen at the local level, last week in Guerrero and this week in Baja California Sur. This could mean that the PRI’s support even nationally is quite fickle.
In legislative elections, the PAN won 9 of the 16 direct seats with the PRI-PVEM taking 4 and the PRD 3. Seemingly, the remaining six PR list seats haven’t been distributed but all participating slates (which line up with the five participants of the gubernatorial contest) have passed the 2% threshold. In terms of share of the vote here, PAN has 31.87% against 28.24% for the PRI, 23.77% for the PRD, 9.1% for PANAL and 3.82% for Convergencia. The PAN’s success hasn’t been replicated in local elections, where it has only won one of the state’s five municipalities (Comondú) with PRD and PRI sharing the remaining four (PRI took the capital, La Paz).
Legislative elections were held in the African island of Cape Verde on February 6, and come a few months out from a presidential election likely to be held this summer. Cape Verde is one of Africa’s democratic success stories, having had a slightly surreal peaceful transition of power from one party to another and more importantly from authoritarianism to democracy following free elections in 1991. Since then, governments have peacefully alternated in power and elections are free and also exceptionally close, with a 21-vote margin in the 2001 presidential election.
Two parties dominate the political life of this archipelago of dry and wind-swept islands off the coast of west Africa. The incumbent government is formed by the African Party for the Independence of Cape Verde (PAICV), which is the post-1980 name of the PAIGC. The PAIGC, founded by Amilcar Cabral, was a Marxist party fighting for the independence of Cape Verde and Portuguese Guinea and which got what it wanted in 1974 when Cape Verde and Guinea became a single independent entity. The Cape Verdean domination of the state didn’t please the mainland, which separated in 1980 but which surprisingly didn’t bother dropping the ‘and Cape Verde’ from the PAIGC’s name like the PAIGC did with the ‘Guinea’ part in Cape Verde. The PAIGC re-branded as PAICV ruled Cape Verde until 1991 as a one-party officially Marxist state. The Cape Verdean economy was (and is) pretty bad and the country, despite its communist rhetoric, was isolated and interestingly befriended apartheid South Africa as an unlikely ally. The PAICV was wiped out in free elections by the liberal Movement for Democracy (MPD) in 1991, but returned to power narrowly in 2001 (by 21 votes in the presidential contest) through former Prime Minister Pedro Pires (who was PM from 74 to 91) who was reelected with a narrow albeit slightly wider majority in 2006 over former MPD Prime Minister Carlos Veiga. Broadly speaking, the PAICV is a socialist party with an “African” orientation while the MPD is a more liberal party, supporting free trade and various other liberal measures. There is also a third party with legislative presence, the centre-right Democratic and Independent Cape Verdean Union (UCID) which remains weak.
PAICV 51% winning 37 seats (-4)
MPD 41.9% winning 33 seats (+4)
UCID 4.9% winning 2 seats (nc)
The MPD seems to do best in non-agricultural areas dependent on salt, while the PAICV does best in traditionally agricultural areas or in dense urban areas such as the capital, Praia. I don’t know how the electoral system works, but seemingly MPD has gained seats despite polling slightly less percentage wise than in 2006 (41.9% vs. 42.8%) with most lost votes going to the UCID who got 2.6% in 2006. There are also 6 diaspora seats, which split 3/3 between both main parties. Barely anyone voted for those seats, which means that Cape Verdeans abroad (of which there are a lot, especially in the US) either don’t vote or don’t have Cape Verdean nationality.
President Pedro Pires is not running again in the presidential election, instead incumbent Prime Minister José Maria Neves will be the PAICV’s candidate, once again facing Carlos Veiga. It’s hard to tell how these will go, but they’ll certainly be close given that the PAICV seems to do better in legislative elections than in presidential elections. Furthermore, party support has basically been the same since 2001 with the PAICV having a tad more support than the MPD but the country basically split down the middle 50/50 between both parties.