By Axel Falk
After a coup in 2009, Madagascar has returned to electoral politics. This has been a welcome change in modus operandi to both the Malagasy people, as well as to Madagascar’s trade partners. However, this electoral system has since been subject to a long array of corruption scandals and dubious choices and reforms by the government. The former president Henry Rajaonarimampianina lost power in the 2018 election to Andry Rajoelina, a former military leader. The election was disputed but has been upheld by international observers. The country has seen a rise in democratic activity in the few years since and has taken steps towards being seen as free by the index Freedom House.
The ghost of imperialism moves quietly in the corridors of power in the capital of Antananarivo. President Andry Rajoelina has, in his time on the podium, created more opportunities for free and fair elections, but problems with corruption and arbitrary nepotism seem to linger. This could have to do with their colonial heritage, having been left to their own devices with little to no support from their old oppressors. Pierre Engelbert argued in his work from 2000sub-saharan countries failed, due to a lack of abutment in both urban and rural societies. This could be why some countries, much like Madagascar, have fallen behind in their democratic goals. Well-directed foreign aid could help with this, through collective auditing of the democratic process and solutions alike. However, foreign aid has its problems, at least from a strictly postcolonial perspective.
The rise of freedom in this post-colonial state could mean that Madagascar might soon fire on all cylinders. The key in the process towards equal opportunity and further transparency seems to be the High Constitutional Court of Madagascar, which This well-governed High Court could be the key player in the hunt for transparency, as Madagascar has long struggled with corruption. On Transparency’s Corruption Perception Index, Madagascar has a score of 25/100, which places them at 149th in the world. While this is not close to being the worst in Africa (which is Somalia and South Sudan, both with 12/100), it’s still bad enough to hamper the dreams of those who envision transparent governance. The High Court has, since 2018, stopped and regulated some reforms that would have harmed the Malagasy population’s democratic rights and has acted as the sole guard on the watchtower for electoral politics.
The Union Africaine has a further and bigger role to play in the rise of Malagasy democracy as well, having partaken as election officials in the election of 2018. If Madagascar is to become a fully consolidated democracy, UA has a big role to play and responsibility to take. The Union has a practical army of mediation experts than can be dispatched and deployed to areas where democracies are in need of help and support. The election of 2018 was overseen by an official from Algeria, for example. This exchange of interest and competence, as well as the vision of an African continent united in their democratic goals is a key aspect in the consolidating of the Malagasy democracy.
The road to complete democracy and freedom is a long one, no doubt about that. The step from partly free to fully fledged civic and political freedom tends to be a more difficult one than the leap out of abject oppression. However, Madagascar’s future looks much brighter than it did a few years ago. With some help from foreign aid organizations, mainly USAid, they are on their way towards building a sustainable and healthy future. Future growth and democratic success will surely lead to an upward spiral where more countries see an opportunity in supporting this rich and biodiverse country on the Eastern coast of Africa, something that should surely lead to continued growth and ennourishment for the people of Madagascar.
Cover photo: Brent Niaber
Axel Falk is a BsC student in Political Science and Economics and has a five-year history in journalism. While he has never set foot on the African continent, his passion for the development of the area and his drive to enlight himself on the different ongoing democratic developments in the area knows no bounds.