Madagascar: Electoral system overview

Updated Nov 2012

Extracted from: Lucien Toulou 2009 "Chapter 6: Madagascar" IN Denis Kadima and Susan Booysen (eds) Compendium of Elections in Southern Africa 1989-2009: 20 Years of Multiparty Democracy, EISA, Johannesburg, 196-198.

Under the Malagasy constitution [of 2007]the president of the republic is the main political figure in the country. His executive power is shared by the prime minister, appointed by the president, with the overall responsibility for carrying out the day-to-day management of government activities. The constitution also provides for a bicameral parliament composed of a Senate and a National Assembly. The judiciary is also enshrined in the April 2007 constitution. The Supreme Court, consisting of 11 members, serves as the highest judiciary authority. Other judicial bodies include appeal courts, tribunals, the High Court of Justice, the Administrative and Financial Constitutional Court, and the High Constitutional Court.

The president of the republic is elected by direct universal suffrage for a five-year term, renewable twice. Both the constitution and the Electoral Code provide that for a candidate to be elected president, he/she must secure at least 50 per cent plus one of the total votes cast. If no candidate receives an absolute majority of the valid votes in the first round, there is provision for a run-off between the two candidates who received the highest number of votes, to be held within a period of two months.

Besides reforms pertaining to constituency delimitation, allocation and number of parliamentary seats, the most notable change in the Malagasy electoral system took place in 1998. Legislative elections were conducted on 17 May of that year under a new electoral law, which favoured larger parties. The previous system of proportional representation using party lists was replaced by a mixed system combining 82 single-member constituencies and a form of proportional representation for 34 two-member constituencies. As a result, Arema, Ratsiraka's party, won only 25 per cent of the votes, but received 63 of the 150 seats. The governing party managed to rule through a coalition government.

As described above, the parliament of Madagascar has two chambers, the National Assembly and the Senate. The National Assembly (Antenimieram-Pirenena/Assemblée Nationale) consists of 127 members elected for a five-year term in single-member and two-member constituencies. The total number of seats in the National Assembly was decreased from 160 to 127 by a presidential decree in 2007. The country is divided into 119 constituencies. In single-member constituencies, the seat is filled by the candidate with the highest number of votes, whereas in two-member constituencies, the two candidates belonging to the list which garners the highest number of favourable votes are seated in the National Assembly. The Senate, the upper house of the parliament, consists of 90 senators. Their term of office was reduced in 2007 from six to five years.

Electoral management

Until 2010 Ministry of Interior and Administrative Reform (MIRA) was responsible for the conduct of electoral operations while the National Electoral Council (Conseil National Electoral/CNE) supervised its activities. In March 2010 the CNE was abolished and the electoral functions of MIRA as well as those of the CNE were transferred to a single body, Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI, Commission Electorale Nationale Indépendante). The High Constitutional Council remained responsible for the registeration of candidates, processing of complaints and the verification and announcements of the final results.

2010 Constitutional change

In 2010 a new constitution replaced the 2007 constitution, which reduced the Presidential term from being renewed twice to being renewed once.