Madagascar Governance and Media
Governance and the rule of law
Since the elections held in 2013, the political climate in Madagascar has become more democratic and, overall, relatively stable political conditions can be positively emphasized, but in principle one cannot speak of a functional multi-party system in which a government pursues social interests and democracy-compliant strategies are implemented. Since the president does not rule with a party majority and his party practically only exists on paper, party programs and goals do not exist, and so does the trust of the population shattered by political history to this day, Madagascar has structural problems that negatively affect other areas. One cannot speak of a democracy in the sense of the international term. Madagascar has not signed the African Charter of Democracy. The relevance of the party system for policy-making is small and essential decisions lie with the president. Changes can only come from the President’s personal advisers. Parliament’s position is relatively weak and it has little control over it. In addition, the power conflict over the leadership of the country is at the center of political events. Corruption and abuse of office, increasing security problems, the unbroken high importance of the traditional aristocracy of Madagascar, rival elite groups, strong fluctuation tendencies in the cabinet and parliament as well as a weak administration make the political reorientation of Madagascar after the coup of 2009 difficult. The raw materials sector is considered to be particularly susceptible to corruption and opaque. The human rights situation has improved since 2009, but the slow processing of crimes during the Rajoelina era (2010-2013), widespread lynching, particularly harsh punishments for cattle thieves (dahalos) and worrying child labor- as a result also with blatant educational deficiencies – make development more difficult. Madagascar ranks 52nd out of 137 for the BTI Governance value 2020 – a moderate result. The political problem in the island state lies fundamentally in the structure of the government and the historical importance of the government level, which consists of a small elite and can only win the trust of the population to a limited extent.
Despite everything, the occupation of all political bodies by democratically elected representatives gives hope for a positive restructuring of politics in the future. An electoral commission, elected for six years in 2015, represents civil society, the media and the judiciary. A priority for Rajaonarimampianina was the fight against corruption and poverty. The judiciary and civil society were able to operate more freely than they did before the Rajaonarimampianina era. In addition, Rajaonarimampianina was heavily involved in implementing the 2030 Agenda and mobilizing financial resources from abroad.
Both Marc Ravalomanana and Andry Rajoelina ran as presidential candidates in the 2018 elections. The elections were financially supported by international sources in order to prevent another political crisis. After the election of Rajoelina as the new president, he announced that he would fight corruption more and reduce poverty – promises that all presidents have so far been unable to keep.
According to ezinereligion, the media landscape is for a poor country like Madagascar as a relatively liberal labeled and diversified, although much less extensive than in Europe. Poverty and illiteracy in Madagascar prevent media use and the possibility of receiving, understanding and, if necessary, questioning national and global information. Television (Télévision Malagasy – state (TVM), Radio-Télévision Amananga – private (RTA), Madagascar TV – private (MATV)) is one-sided and hardly suitable for providing real independent information. The radio plays a bigger role. Regional can have several public, private and ecclesiastical radio stations are received, but nationwide this only applies to the state broadcaster Radio Madagasikara (RNM), which thus plays a central role.
The major daily newspapers Midi Madagasikara, the Gazette de la Grande Île and L´Express de Madagascar publish mostly in French, some also in Malagasy. However, there are also many other national as well as regional newspapers. The majority of daily newspapers and magazines are sold in Antananarivo, and with increasing distance from the capital and in remote rural areas, newspapers will hardly be found.
Reporters Without Borders criticized the fact that self-censorship, harassment and intimidation of reporters and journalists have increased since 2010. There have been isolated attacks on journalists in recent years. The media landscape is generally classified by Freedom House as “partly free”, so it can be described as relatively open. However, the fact that television stations can be put under massive pressure or banned, as was the case with the opposition channel “Viva” in 2015, is unsettling, advocating freedom of the press and suggests a certain amount of media control. On the list of press freedom by Reporters Without Borders, Madagascar 2020 shows better media transparency with rank 54 out of 180 compared to many other sub-Saharan countries. In 2009, the country was still in 134th place out of 175 countries. Under the transition government Rajoelina it was impossible to speak of open media coverage. After that, the country only slowly returned to independent reporting.
Madagascar was one of the first countries in sub-Saharan Africa to have internet connectivity. But here, too, the problems of comprehensive media education do not lie in the limitation of the flow of information through censorship, but in the problematic access by the population. Only about 4% of Malagasy people have the opportunity to use the Internet, although the number has increased significantly in the last few years from 2011-2016.
The online portals Madagate, Madonline, Newsmada, or Madagascar Tribune offer the latest news.