Madagascar Domestic Politics

By | May 12, 2021

Different government models with fluctuating development after independence from France, bloody coup attempts, the military government in the 1970’s, non-transparent elections, corruption and mismanagement, high national debts and the overexploitation of nature have marked Madagascar domestically. For a large part of the population, living conditions remain precarious and dominated by poverty.

As a result of the internationally criticized coup of 2009, donor payments for Madagascar were cut or suspended, which brought the state budget, which was already heavily dependent on international funds, to the brink of ruin. Urgent infrastructure or environmental protection projects could not be implemented. Important international organizations such as the IMF, the EU, SADC, the AU or the Organization of the Francophonie suspended Madagascar because of the events. It was not until 2014 that most of the bilateral and multilateral donors resumed their relations with Madagascar and their project work. The IMF granted loans to the Antananarivo government in 2016 in the millions mainly for reducing the poverty of the population. For the government under President Rajaonarimampianina, the implementation of the 2030 Agenda was an important political goal, for which international aid funds were also received. Madagascar has undertaken or is undertaking efforts to ensure the achievement of the SDGs with the help of the national development plan Plan National de Développement (PND) 2015-2019 (new version 2017-2019, now under President Rajoelina). In 2016, the country filed a voluntary interim report. The cooperation between the private sector, civil society and actors in development cooperation is an important pillar of the 2030 Agenda.

So far, however, expectations have not yet been met and there is no talk of an improvement in living conditions in accordance with the 2030 Agenda. On the contrary, complex problems seem to be responsible for the fact that it remains a difficult challenge for Madagascar as a whole to build functioning institutions, reduce corruption, reduce inequality in the population and protect the environment in the long term. Social spending on education or health remains low, while spending on the presidency and the military is increasing. The protection of the environment is obviously of secondary importance to the government when it comes to profits from, for example, leasing farmland to foreign countries or selling it Precious woods from the rainforest, where there are mafia-like machinations with international buyers that are obviously tolerated by the authorities. The environmental damage have seriously increased instead of decreased since 2009. According to ehistorylib, the residents of Madagascar are also getting poorer, in 2016 93% lived on less than USD 2 a day (2008: 82%), child labor has risen sharply, every second child is malnourished, the energy sector has an enormous need for improvement and many health stations were closed due to insufficient funding closed. The already difficult conditions are exacerbated for the poor population by the increased natural disasters such as the increased occurrence of typhoons / hurricanes, droughts and floods. Politicians seem helpless or cannot stop the further impoverishment of the population.

Madagascar Politics

Structural political problems in the government such as corruption or nepotism are exacerbated by the importance of the traditional aristocracy, ie the Andriana nobility, who create elites and prevent broad sections of the population from advancing to important offices due to the impermeability of the system. The position of the president is vulnerable and continuously strives to justify his actions. Prime Minister Roger Kolo, appointed in 2014, was replaced by Jean Ravelonarivo in 2015. But already in 2016 this came together with the cabinet back. Reasons were not given, but disputes between the president and Ravelonarivo were suspected. The new Prime Minister was Olivier Mahafaly Solonandrasana in 2016. However, he resigned in the run-up to the elections – which were held in late 2018 – in June 2018. In 2018, President Rajaonarimampianina, Rajoelina and Ravalomanana were the most important actors in a central power conflict behind which political elites stood and who were embroiled in a conflict over redistribution of political power and influence. All in all, this elite appeared to act primarily in its own interests and socio-economically exclude the broad masses of the population. The dissatisfaction and thus the willingness to use violence among a disappointed population with a steadily falling standard of living – including many young people with no prospects for the future – are growing to this day.

Rajaonarimampianina’s relations with Rajoelina were strained before the 2018 elections. That was not always the case, because Rajaonarimampianina benefited from his office as Finance Minister under Rajoelina from his favor. When appointing the prime minister soon after the 2013 election, however, he proposed his own candidates and thus acted against Rajoelina’s ideas. Also in the army, Rajaonarimampianina replaced several generals who were among Rajoelina’s followers. Ravalomanana, who tried to rebuild his trading empire TIKO, counted on the former trust in the population, while Rajoelina apparently had problems rebuilding his power base. However, he was combative and presented his in early 2018 Initiative pour l’Emergence de Madagascar (IEM), with the help of which he wanted to restore the people’s confidence in politics and develop concrete and quickly applicable solutions to the island’s problems. For many Madagascans, however, these are just words and plans that they do not attach a future to.

Internationally, no one wanted to endanger the fragile political stability. In April 2018 bloody demonstrations took place again in Antananarivo due to an election law that was changed in the run-up to the elections. After Solondrasana resigned in early June, Ntsay Olivier of the MAPAR party became the new prime minister. In advance, at least the press seemed to agree to be that the “accountant” (Rajaonarimampianina), the “DJ” (Rajoelina) or the “milkman” (Ravalomanana) would make the choice among themselves. The game of political power and, above all, socio-economic security and wealth seemed to repeat itself in the small elite without believing that real improvements could be achieved for all Malagasy people.

Andry Rajoelina won the elections in December 2018 after a runoff election, and on January 19, 2019 he was sworn in as the new President of Madagascar. In March Rajoelina received special permission to legislate. The new President Rajoelina is currently trying to establish himself and win back the trust of the population, but the corruption and increasing impunity in criminal cases also seem to lower the inhibition threshold for violence and crime. It will be difficult for Rajoelina as the new – old – President to push new developments and finally to achieve improvements. After 100 days, Rajoelina’s rival Ravalomanana paints a negative picture the previous term of office of the new President. As part of the decentralization of Madagascar, Rajoelina is considering changing the constitution on some points – which is not met with approval everywhere. However, the referendum will be postponed – probably until 2020.