Madagascar History after Independence Part I

By | May 8, 2021

Independence Day: June 26, 1960

Head of state: Andry Rajoelina

Head of government: Prime Minister Christian Ntsay

Political system: Semi-presidential system of government

Democracy Status Index (BTI): Rank 73 (of 137) (2020)

Corruption Index (CPI): Rank 158 (of 180) (2019)

Ibrahim Index of African Governance: Rank 35 (out of 54) (2020), Score: 44.4 / 100

1st Republic (1960-1972)

In 1958, General de Gaulle declared Madagascar an independent republic in the wake of the global independence efforts of the European colonies, and in 1960 the island became an independent republic. June 26, 1962 is Madagascar’s Independence Day. As the first president, Philibert Tsiranana pursued an anti-communist and neocolonialist policy, which, however, could not stop the deterioration of the economic situation. His party, PADESM, founded in 1946(Parti des déshérités de Madagascar), which later became the PSD (Parti social-démocrate), was seen as a counterweight to the MDRM and was the strongest party in Madagascar. Tsiranana could not contain nepotism and corruption. The poor economic situation, bad harvests and food shortages led to famine and epidemics, mainly among the rural poor. Overall, the president was accused of aligning his policy too much with France or of having given the colonial power too much power. In 1965 Tsiranana was re-elected, now in general elections. The election result of 97% already allows for voices to criticize the correct implementation of the elections.

Military dictatorship (1972-1975)

In 1972, Tsiranana became President of Madagascar for the third time. According to computergees, the numbers now pointed even more clearly to discrepancies, at least to the influence of the population: the turnout was 98.8%, the president received 99.72% of the votes cast.

But there were student and peasant demonstrations against the election and the poor living conditions (“Rotaka”), so that in 1972 the military was able to put on a coup and Tsiranana had to relinquish power. Three years of military dictatorship followed, during which General Ramanantsoa turned away from France and turned to the USSR. Interior Minister Richard Ratsimandrava, to whom Ramantsoa handed power in 1975, was shot soon afterwards. His successor, Gilles Andriamahazo, also ruled only briefly, because in 1975 there was another military coup in which the former Foreign Minister Didier Ratsiraka claimed power for himself. This period from 1972 to 1975 is considered by many to be the real revolution and a struggle for independence from Franceviewed. Didier Ratsiraka did not come to power through elections in 1975, but was appointed president by the military.

2nd Republic (1975-1991)

Ratsiraka pursued a socialist policy, concentrated on contacts with the East and broke off international economic ties with France. As a result, Madagascar left the Union of Francophone States. At the same time, Ratsiraka tried to go back to Malagasy traditions and institutionalized the so-called Fokonolana system, a mixture of traditional forms of organization of the village community with socialist elements. Ratsimandrava had already asked for that. The president introduced a new constitution that abolished the Senate, but the government led by the prime minister was appointed by the president. Since the office of Prime Minister and President were both held by Ratsiraka, the President was able to unite a large monopoly of power and developed into a dictator. Ratsiraka was in close contact with dictator Kim-Il-Sung and was strongly influenced by him in his governance. Rasiraka won the 1977 elections with his party AREMA (Avantgarde de la Révolution Malgache), but the opposition parties that came under the umbrella ofFNDR (Front National pour la Defense de Révolution), denounced corruption, mismanagement and increasing press censorship. The country was doing worse and worse economically. Industry hardly produced, rather combines emerged. In 1988 the debt was so high that the national budget collapsed. The IMF agreed a sequence of structural reform programs (Program d’Ajustement Structurel I and II), with financial commitments tied to devaluation of the currency, privatization of state-owned enterprises and an opening of the market. In 1989 AREMA was only just able to prevail against the opposition. In 1991 several hundred thousand people demonstrated for a change of power, for which the opposition party “Forces Vives” had called, to bloody unrest. The founder of this opposition was the surgeon Albert Zafy, who also promoted the transition from the one-party system to a parliamentary democracy. The military behaved neutrally and did not make itself available to either party as an instrument of power. The president remained in office for a transitional government until 1993, but then went into exile in France. 1992 – Madagascar had been ruled to ruin by Ratsiraka – the third republic was proclaimed by a referendum.

Madagascar History 2