Madagascar History after Independence Part II
3rd Republic (1993-2010)
It was not until 1993 that Albert Zafy was elected as the new president. He won against Ratsiraka (33%) with 66% of the vote. At this point in time, many hoped for a new beginning, for Madagascar to regain economic strength and to alleviate the suffering population. But Zafy’s attempt to rehabilitate the country through economic liberalization tendencies failed. Zafy was overwhelmed with the economic and social modernization. Disappointment again spread when corruption and abuse of office could not be contained under Zafy either. In 1996 there was a vote of no confidence in the president. In new elections, the ex-president, who had returned from exile, actually won Ratsirakathe presidential post and now pursued the policy of ecological humanism, but he could not end the crisis. In the 2001 elections there was a dispute over the outcome: the ruling party of Ratsiraka won the victory, the opposition with the new hope Marc Ravalomanana believed in the victory. At first there was a head-to-head race between Ratsiraka and Ravalomanana, with the former receiving 40% of the vote and the latter 46% of the vote. No candidate could win an absolute majority, which would constitutionally have meant a second round of voting. But after a tough struggle and a recount (51% for Ravalomanana and 36% for Ratsiraka) Ravalomanana went as the new president and winner of the disputes and was also recognized internationally as president. In these elections there appeared to be considerable inconsistencies, false counts and different results depending on which electoral organization was consulted. The national electoral commission CENI came to the above-mentioned results, The Committee to Elect Marc Ravalomanana (KMMR – Komity Manohana an’i Marc Ravalomanana) led 52% for Ravalomanana and 36% for Ratsiraka, an independent civil society organization (Consortium of Election Observers = CNOE) came to 50% (Ravalomanana) and 38% (Ratsiraka).
According to constructmaterials, the finally recognized new President of Madagascar – Marc Ravalomanana – had become known as a businessman and mayor of Antananarivo. Coming from a humble background, he founded Madagascar’s largest company, TIKO, which initially concentrated on the marketing of dairy products, but was then also successful in other sectors. Ravalomanana practiced an ultra-liberal economic policy that was opposed to the strong interventionist influence of the state in the colonial and socialist periods. To this end, he developed a reform concept (développement rapide et durable), with which he wanted to fight poverty and mismanagement. As a result of the initially successfully implemented liberal market reform approaches, the economy recovered quickly, the infrastructure was expanded and the basic socio-political needs could be improved through modernization of the education and health systems. For a few years Madagascar was known as the “African tiger”, Ravalomanana as an ambitious president who wanted the country good. But inflation rose, prices for rice and other foods exploded, and the poverty line fell. Nonetheless, Ravalomanana was re-elected in 2006 for a further term until 2011. His party Tiako I Madagasikari, Founded in 2002, gained a majority of seats in the National Assembly. But violent riots broke out again after the president had the popular television station “Viva” shut down, and he himself was accused of corruption and self-enrichment as well as land grabbing deals with South Korea. The president moved further and further away from the basic rules of democracy. The young entrepreneur Andry Rajoelina, leader of the TGV party (Tanora malaGasy Vonona = determined young Madagascans; the name also refers to the fast French train TGV) used the dissatisfaction of the population to call for a general strike in 2009.
This coup attempt got completely out of control. There was talk of a “bloody Saturday” and many demonstrators died. The military barracks in Capsat, where most of the weapons were stored, mutinied and sided with Rajoelina. In some cases, the soldiers are said to have received financial support from opponents of Ravalomanana, mainly operating from abroad. Voices were also raised that France may have acted in the background because Ravalomanana is said to have promoted anti-French economic policy. Ravalomanana dissolved the government and fled into exile in South Africa. In absence he was four years in prison for abuse of office condemned.
The coup was also criticized internationally. As a young oppositionist with no political background, Rajoelina took over power as president of a self-proclaimed transitional government (HAT = Haute Autorité de Transition). He proclaimed the Fourth Republic in December 2010, appointed himself President and unconstitutionally dissolved the Senate and National Assembly. A referendum on an amended constitution should confirm him in office.
4th Republic (2010-2014) and today’s situation
The referendum was overshadowed by logistical problems, many Madagascans could not vote due to missing papers, corruption accompanied the vote, which was also not recognized internationally. The opposition attempted a coup, but Rajoelina refused to resign. The minimum age for the presidency in the amended constitution has been lowered from 40 to 35 years in view of Rajoelina’s age. The transitional government should be confirmed in the 2010 elections. However, these were postponed several times and only took place in 2013. The overexploitation of nature reached a climax under Rajoelina, especially precious woods were illegally felled and exported, rare animals like the radiated tortoise were almost exterminated. The crime rate increased, bandit groups formed and especially in the south anarchist conditions prevailed at times. Rajoelina could not prevent the foreign country, tourist numbers declining and a total collapse of the public finances, although he had promised a decrease in poverty when he took office. The return of Ravalomanana was prevented. Finally there were elections in which the former Minister of Finance under Rajoelina – Hery Rajaonarimampianina – was elected as the new president. His Inauguration took place in January 2014. Unfortunately, Rajaonarimampianina also found it difficult to contain corruption and mismanagement. In 2015 there was even a vote of no confidence, which was then declared unconstitutional. The president tried to strengthen the country’s economy by reconnecting with the AU, the EU and the SADC. This also included the expansion of tourism, the consolidation of the ailing national airline Air Madagascar and the improvement of the energy supply. But criticism was frequent. It remains to be seen how President Rajoelina, who has been in office since the beginning of 2019, will get the problems under control.