ELECTION RESULTS (December 1995-March 1996)
Bangladesh: Widespread clashes between government and opposition supporters and a boycott by major opposition leaders resulted in a low turnout (10 percent) in parliamentary elections held on February 15. Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia’s ruling Bangladesh Nationalist Party finished with 253 seats in the 300-member National Parliament, including 48 that went uncontested. The Nationalist Democratic Alliance and an independent candidate won one seat each. Voting was not completed in the 45 remaining constituencies.
Benin: A high turnout and peaceful voting marked the first round of presidential elections, held on March 4 with seven candidates contending. Incumbent president Nicéphore D. Soglo of the Benin Renaissance Party led the first round with 35.6 percent, followed by former president Mathieu Kérékou of the Fard Alafia party with 34.9 percent and National Assembly head Adrien Houngbedji of the Party of Democratic Renewal with 19.7 percent. Results of the runoff between Soglo and Kérékou, set for March 17, will be reported in a future issue.
Cape Verde: Registered voters turned out in large numbers for parliamentary elections on January 14 and February 15. The ruling Movement for Democracy secured 50 of the 72 seats in parliament, the African Party for the Independence of Cape Verde won 21, and the Party of the Democratic Convergence took a single seat.
Equatorial Guinea: Protesting alleged fraud and intimidation, all but one opposition candidate withdrew from the presidential race leading up to the February 25 vote. President Obiang Mbasogo, whose only opponent was Secundino Oyono of the Social Democratic and Popular Convergence Party, won with 97.8 percent of the vote. Boycott calls held down voter turnout, while international observers reported numerous cases of irregularities.
Haiti: In presidential voting on 17 December 1995, Lavalas party candidate René Préval captured 87.9 percent of the vote. His closest rival, Léon Jeune, came in second with 2.5 percent, followed by socialist Victor Benoît with 2.3 percent. Monitors from the Organization of American States reported that the elections, which were orderly, drew a turnout of 27.9 percent of the electorate.
Kyrgyztan: On 24 December 1995, over 85 percent of Kyrgyztan’s 2.3 million eligible voters cast ballots in their country’s first presidential election since independence in 1991. Incumbent Askar Akayev won reelection with 73.9 percent of the vote. His closest rivals were Kyrgyz Communist Party leader Absamat Masa Masaliyev and former parliamentary speaker Medetkan Sherimkulov, who collected 17 percent and 5 percent, respectively.
Russia: See the table summarizing the results of Russia’s 17 December 1995 parliamentary elections on p. 92 above.
Sierra Leone: On February 26, amid rebel violence that claimed at least 22 lives, Leoneans went to the polls for the first time in a decade to cast their ballots for a new president and legislature. To take office, the leading presidential candidate had to secure at least 55 percent of the vote. The frontrunners in the presidential race, Ahmed Tejan Kabbah of the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) and John Karefa-Smart of the United National People’s Party (UNPP), won 35.8 percent and 22.6 percent of the vote, respectively. The runoff is scheduled for March 15; results will be reported in a future issue. In the legislative polls, the SLPP obtained 36.1 percent of the vote, followed by the UNP with 21.6 percent.
Taiwan: Results of presidential elections set for March 23 will be reported in a future issue.
Turkey: In elections to the 550-member Grand National Assembly held on 24 December 1995, the Islamic-oriented Welfare Party won a plurality with 158 seats. Prime Minister Tansu Ciller’s True Path Party secured 135 seats, and the center-right Motherland Party, headed by Mesut Yilmaz, won 133. On February 28, in a bid to prevent the Welfare Party from assuming office, Ciller and Yilmaz announced the outlines of a coalition government that would include a rotating premier-ship. Former prime minister BÜlent Ecevit, head of the Democratic Left Party (which won 75 seats), offered conditional support to the alliance, which formally took power on March 7 with Yilmaz as prime minister.
West Bank and Gaza: On January 20, for the first time in their history, Palestinians went to the polls to elect a legislative council and a president. Palestinian Liberation Organization leader Yasir Arafat became the Palestinian Authority’s first president, winning 88.1 percent of the vote; his main opponent, Samiha Yusuf Khalil, garnered 9.3 percent. The legislative contests, held in all 16 constituencies of the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem, saw three-quarters of the 88 seats go to members of the Arafat’s Fatah political movement. International monitors noted a number of irregularities, but praised the high turnout and the efficient manner in which the elections were conducted.
Zimbabwe: Presidential elections were scheduled for March 15. Results will be published in a future issue.
Upcoming Elections (April 1996-March 1997)
Albania: parliamentary, April-May 1996*
Armenia: presidential, September 1996
Cyprus: parliamentary, 26 May 1996
Czech Republic: parliamentary, 31 May 1996 and November 1996
Dominican Republic: presidential, 16 May 1996
Ecuador: presidential/legislative, 19 May 1996
El Salvador: legislative, March 1997
Estonia: presidential, October 1996
Gambia: presidential/legislative, June 1996
Ghana: presidential/legislative, November 1996
India: parliamentary, November 1996
Kazakhstan: presidential, December 1996
Kuwait: parliamentary, October 1996
Liberia: presidential/legislative, August 1996*
Lithuania: parliamentary, November 1996
Mauritius: parliamentary, September 1996*
Moldova: presidential, December 1996
Mongolia: parliamentary, 21 June 1996
Nicaragua: presidential/legislative, 20 October 1996
Romania: presidential/legislative, September 1996
Russia: presidential, June 1996
Slovenia: parliamentary, November-December 1996
South Korea: parliamentary, 11 April 1996
Suriname: presidential/legislative, May 1996
Trinidad and Tobago: parliamentary, December 1996
Uganda: presidential/legislative, June 1996
Uzbekistan: presidential, December 1996
Zambia: presidential/legislative, October 1996*
Election Watch provides reports of recently decided and upcoming elections in postcommunist and developing countries. Elections in nondemocratic nations are included when they exhibit a significant element of genuine competition or, in the case of upcoming elections, when they represent an important test of progress toward democracy. This information is current as we go to press; however, election dates are often moved due to changing circumstances. The data in Election Watch are provided by the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), a private, nonprofit education and research foundation that assists in monitoring, supporting, and strengthening the mechanics of the electoral process worldwide. For additional information, contact: IFES, 1620 1 Street, N.W., Suite 611, Washington, DC 20006; (202) 828-8507.