Cape Verdeans is set to go to the polls this Sunday (17) to elect the country’s next president. Seven incumbents are currently running for office by George Carlos Fonseka, who is stepping down after two terms.
Although many countries in the region face leaders who do everything to overthrow the regime or stay in power, the small Portuguese-speaking archipelago is seen as a model of democratic stability in the African region.
About 400 thousand voters were called to take part in the election, including Fernando Rocha Delcado, Gilson Alves, Jose Maria Neves, Carlos Vega, Helio Sanchez, Casimiro de Bina and Joachim Monteiro.
Unlike its neighbors, Cape Verde is one of the best African countries in terms of management.
The former Portuguese colony, which had been independent since 1975, lived under one-party rule until the 1990s, when the first democratic elections took place. Since then, Cape Verdeans has lived under a politically stable regime in which the executive is controlled by the prime minister.
The current president, who has been in power since 2011, cannot attempt a third mandate. In addition, the elected candidate has only a representative role abroad, except to appoint the head of government depending on the outcome of the assembly election.
“We are a small archipelago, a small population and we have a tradition of civilian governments,” says sociologist Roselma Evora, summarizing Cape Verde’s political stability in a region where political change has not always taken place peacefully.
“We also have a constitutional framework for the separation of powers with a parliamentary body,” he added, adding that even if the head of state could veto a law and was commander-in-chief of the armed forces, the essential power would be in the hands of the prime minister.
One structure that affects the turnout is that voters are not encouraged by the presidential election. “I do not vote because it does not change my life, which is why I choose not to vote,” declared Adilson, a Cape Verdean designer who took to the streets of Priya.
“If you wait in line and are at risk of infection, I think it is not safe because there are many who are voting and without restraint,” he recalled of the health environment.
Political instability but economic instability
In addition to affecting voter motivation to vote, the epidemic has also changed the country’s economy. Despite the relative political stability, Cape Verde relies on tourism, which represents 25% of its GDP. And the Govt-19 shook Cape Verde’s funds.
In 2019, the archipelago received 800 thousand tourists. But in 2020, after several years of growth (5.7% and 4.5% in 2019 and 2018), Cape Verde recorded a drop in audience numbers, followed by a historic recession of about 14%. Most hotels closed their doors and many Cape Verdeans who worked in the industry lost their jobs.
In addition, Cape Verde, due to its volcanic terrain, imports 90% of its consumption, leaving only 10% of its arable land, which creates a certain economic weakness. According to the World Bank, migrant remittances account for 14% of GDP.
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