This photo is of a voting booth set up in village schoolhouse. It was taken by Alizé Carrère, a National Geographic Explorer who writes about her experience in Madagascar during the elections in Nat Geo’s ‘Explorers’ Journal.’
Last Friday Madagascar held presidential elections for the first time since a military coup in 2009. Reports on election day by journalists and election observers told of a relatively smooth process. Here’s a link to election day reporting by the BBC.
Today National Geographic Explorer Alizé Carrère reports on the election process she witnessed and the results so far:
At first I thought I heard incorrectly.
“Thirty-three presidential candidates?”, I clarified. I had just arrived in Madagascar and was asking about the many political faces I saw plastered across t-shirts and vehicles.
My field assistant, Ando, nodded and broke into a laugh that suggested even she thought this an amusing, if not somewhat crazy, fact in her country’s first steps towards re-establishing a democratically elected government.
In fact, it had originally been 41 presidential candidates, but eight people were disqualified*. As Madagascar’s first presidential election since the 2009 military coup that overthrew the government, beginning the country’s path to free and fair democratic election with such a high number of competitors struck me as nothing short of precarious.
Conservation organizations like Lemur Conservation Foundation are working to ensure the newly elected president is a partner in slowing and eventually stopping the illegal harvesting and sale of hardwoods, the bush meat industry, and the capture of lemurs for the illegal wildlife trade.
AllAfrica.com reported early, preliminary results, though the official announcement is expected on 8 November.
‘The first round of Madagascar’s presidential elections on 25 October was a momentous occasion: the polls were the first since a coup in March 2009 when Andry Rajoelina overthrew President Marc Ravalomanana. That they happened at all is remarkable after so many false starts, but that they happened without incidents is more than most people hoped for.
That isn’t the only surprise: as the results trickle in, Jean-Louis Robinson – the candidate supported by Ravalomanana, who is exiled in South Africa – is emerging with a comfortable poll lead of 27% of the votes (this is a partial result, with only 44% of the votes counted so far). Robinson was always expected to do well – Ravalomanana remains popular – but the scale of his success has confounded everyone, including Robinson and the Ravalomanana clan themselves. People expected Hery Rajaonarimampianina, the candidate favoured by Rajoelina, to come out first. As well as the favour of the transition president, Rajaonarimampianina had, by all accounts, the most lavish electoral campaign budget. But in some areas of the highlands, the heartland of Ravalomanana’s support base, Robinson has won 60% of the votes.’