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  • Election Watch

(July–September 2015)

Burundi: Following an eight-week delay marked by unrest over President Pierre Nkurunziza’s bid for an arguably unconstitutional third term, the presidential election was held on July 21. Despite controversy over his eligibility to run, Nkurunziza of the ruling National Council for the Defense of Democracy–Forces for the Defense of Democracy (CNDD-FDD) entered the race and won 69 percent. The names of several opposition candidates, despite their call for a boycott of the vote, remained on the final ballot. Among them was former rebel leader Agathon Rwasa of the opposition Hope for Burundians coalition, who came in second with 19 percent. In July 24 elections for the 100-seat National Assembly, Nkurunziza’s CNDD-FDD won 77 seats, the Hope for Burundians coalition won 21 seats, and the remaining seats went to members of smaller parties. UN observers criticized the election, stating “the environment was not conducive for free, credible, and inclusive elections.” The opposition remained divided over whether victorious opposition candidates should take their seats in parliament.

Ethiopia: According to official results from elections held May 24 for the 547-seat House of People’s Representatives, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn’s longtime ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) won all 547 seats, stripping the opposition of the single seat that it had previously held.

Guatemala: Shortly before the September 6 first-round presidential election, President Otto Pérez Molina of the Patriotic Party (PP), who was not a candidate for reelection, resigned in the face of corruption charges. Actor and comedian Jimmy Morales of the newly formed National Convergence Front (FCN) led with 24 percent, while former first lady Sandra Torres of the center-left National Unity for Hope (UNE) and Manuel Baldizón of the [End Page 178] Renewed Democratic Liberty (Lider) party each received 20 percent, but Baldizón withdrew from the October 25 runoff (whose results will be reported in a future issue). In concurrent elections for the 158-seat Congress, Lider received 19 percent and 46 seats; the UNE, 16 percent and 33 seats; the newly formed Everyone Together for Guatemala party, 11 percent and 16 seats; the PP, 9 percent and 18 seats; and the FCN, 9 percent and 11 seats. The remaining seats went to members of smaller parties.

Haiti: Following more than three years of delays, first-round elections for Haiti’s bicameral legislature were held August 9. According to preliminary results, none of the candidates vying for the 20-seat Senate managed to avoid a runoff and only eight of the estimated 1,600 candidates running for the 99-seat Chamber of Deputies were elected in the first round. Turnout was extremely low—only 18 percent nationwide—and voting was canceled in 22 constituencies due to violence. OAS observers, despite acknowledging irregularities, commended Haiti for holding the long overdue elections, which they described as “a real step forward for strengthening democracy in Haiti.” Presidential and second-round legislative elections are scheduled to take place October 25; results will be reported in a future issue.

Mexico: In June 7 elections for the 500-seat Chamber of Deputies, President Enrique Peña Nieto’s ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), together with its allies the Mexican Green Ecologist Party (PVEM) and the New Alliance Party (PANAL), upheld its narrow majority. The PRI won 29 percent and 203 seats, PVEM received 7 percent and 47 seats, and PANAL received 4 percent and 10 seats. Former president Felipe Calderón’s conservative National Action Party (PAN) received 21 percent and 108 seats; the social-democratic Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) won 11 percent and 56 seats; the newly formed PRD splinter group National Regeneration Movement (MORENA), led by former presidential candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador, won 8 percent and 35 seats; and the left-leaning Citizens’ Movement (MC) received 6 percent and 26 seats. Two smaller parties and independent candidates split the remaining 15 seats. Violence and intimidation escalated ahead of the election, resulting in the death of eight candidates.

Singapore: Following the death of former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew, the government called for snap elections on September 11 for...


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