There’s only one week left until the election of deputies to the National Assembly, scheduled for May 27 in Madagascar.

In advance of the elections, public opinion was analyzed for such topics as the population’s attitude towards President Andry Rajoelina, assessment of the country’s economic situation and development of relations with other countries, as well as public attitude to elections.

The majority of respondents showed positive attitude towards the newly elected President of the Republic and pinned on him their hopes for the country’s development. However, most respondents think that he takes very few specific steps. These include only the rice distribution program and the fight against corruption. It should be noted that most regional respondents are unable to evaluate the President’s actions due to poor awareness and weak communication links between the capital and the regions.

Respondents believe that the economic situation in the country will improve through the President’s actions implemented in line with his election program. In their view, priority problems requiring immediate intervention are the following: development of traffic network, development of the agricultural sector, electrification, creating jobs in rural areas. As regards the attitude towards investors, among the residents of the capital only experts note the need for external inflow, while the position of ordinary citizens is mostly negative. Residents of the regions note the complete absence of investment projects aimed at improving their standard of living.

International relations are considered by respondents from economic point of view exclusively, with France, China, and India viewed as the main partners. Their attitude towards China and India can be characterized as negative, while it is more neutral towards France.

Referring to the elections as such, it is generally noted that the population takes an active interest in the electoral process. Respondents know the names of the candidates and are well aware of the parties’ activities. Marc Ravalomanana’s party (TIM) is not going to give up their positions and will seek a majority in Parliament. Supporters of Marc Ravalomanana’s party could also be found among the numerous independent candidates. Notably that party affiliation has ceased to be important for voters and people tend to vote for specific candidates.

The election campaign was launched on May 6, 2019. At the moment, the election race is in full swing: the candidates are actively rallying and making presentations to the voters.

Elections will be held in 119 districts. The presidential decree #2019—189 issued on February 22, 2019 stipulates that districts with less than 300 000 voters will elect one candidate. Thus, the 32 most populated districts will elect two candidates, while the 87 smaller ones will only have one candidate elected. In the above mentioned 32 districts, elections will be held according to the proportional representation system and in 87 districts – upon the majority electoral system. A total of 151 candidates will be elected.

Initially, documents were submitted by 862 nominees; of those, 59 files were rejected after checking. Refusals were explained by the following reasons: criminal record, inability to pay the registration fee, absence of good standing, delay in filing documents.

Thus, only 803 candidates will participate in the upcoming elections. Toamasina I and Arivonimamo districts have the largest number of candidates. 345 candidates are members of political parties and 517 are independent. Gender composition: 85% are males, 15% are females.

Some certainty is observed in the balance of power. In December 2018, presidential elections were held in the Republic. Leaders of the two political elites, Andry Rajoelina and Marc Ravalomanana, entered the runoff. Relying on the expert interview data, their rivalry will continue in the elections to the National Assembly.

The distribution of seats in the National Assembly is based on the rivalry between the two leading political forces and the presidential election outcomes are likely to impact the results in the upcoming elections.

Marc Ravalomanana’s TIAKO I MADAGASIKARA (TIM) party put forward 108 candidates and 151 candidates were nominated by the party of Andry Rajoelina ISIKA REHETRA MIARAKA @ ANDRY RAJOELINA. Referring to the number of involved districts, we see the following: TIM – 81, ISIKA REHETRA MIARAKA @ ANDRY RAJOELINA – 119.

Under elections held by proportional representation system, Marc Ravalomanana’s party can claim 22 mandates, but if we make a possible addition of 24 mandates from the districts that voted for him in the presidential elections, the total number of mandates will be 46.

Under elections held by proportional representation system, Andry Rajoelina’s party can claim 42 mandates and a possible addition of 61 mandates from the districts that supported him in the presidential elections. The total number of mandates will be 103.

Data presented allow us to conclude on the high campaigning preparedness of Marc Ravalomanana’s party. They have analyzed the results of the presidential elections, identified districts “sympathetic” towards them, and allocated their resources accordingly. Andry Rajoelina’s party made a bid for a mass nomination of candidates and high rating of the President. It should also be mentioned that apart from the candidates representing AR and MR parties, there are independent candidates who will receive a certain number of votes in any case, which would make AR and MR strategies less victorious. There exist certain reservations that independent candidates would change their position for their own benefit.

Strengths of the parties:

ISIKA REHETRA MIARAKA @ ANDRY RAJOELINA:

1. Headed by the current President of the country, popular among the population;

2. Programs to assist the poor were implemented;

3. Mass nomination of candidates;

TIM:

1. Focus on the voters who supported Marc Ravalomanana in the presidential election;

Weaknesses of the parties:

ISIKA REHETRA MIARAKA @ ANDRY RAJOELINA:

1. Very few specific steps taken by the President;

2. Lack of technical capabilities for public awareness raising;

3. Presence of independent candidates;

4. Loss of the President’s image resulting from protests in Brieville and Tulear.

TIM:

1. Low rating of the party leader due to his electoral defeat and scandals during the previous presidential terms;

2. Weak support in the regions;

3. Presence of independent candidates.

It can be stated that the main struggle for seats in the Parliament will unfold between the President’s party and the supporters of the loser candidate in the recent elections. Despite the dominant position of the Rajoelina’s party, Ravalomanana has a strong chance to weaken the President’s support in the National Assembly; therefore, the key objective of both will be poaching on independent candidates and their district voters.