Just eight days after a second-round runoff in which Macky Sall (above, right) defeated incumbent Abdoulaye Wade by nearly a two-to-one margin, Sall was sworn in hours ago as Senegal’s new president.
The inauguration is the culmination of a sometimes tumultuous campaign that threatened to explode into a constitutional crisis — Wade had opted to run for a controversial third term, notwithstanding a constitutional ban (passed earlier by Wade himself) limiting the president to two terms. Notwithstanding the fact that popular candidates were refused an opportunity to run and Senegalese police used force in putting down protests in advance of the first round of the vote (leading to up to six deaths), the peaceful transfer of power marks the second such transfer in 12 years and further strengthens Senegal’s democratic tradition — even as its neighboring Mali descends into post-coup confusion.
Notwithstanding the fact that Senegal’s opposition put all of its support behind Sall in the second round, Sall remains a creature of the Senegalese establishment and was Wade’s one-time right-hand man. With a stagnant economy, high food and electricity prices and moderate corruption, Sall’s inauguration alone — however much a victory for democratic legitimacy — will not be enough to meet the opposition’s fairly high expectations.
Politically, Sall’s first challenge will be to secure victory in Senegal’s June 17 parliamentary elections — Wade’s Parti Démocratique Sénégalais won the 2007 legislative elections, taking 131 of 150 seats, after opposition candidates boycotted Wade’s efforts to undermine free and fair elections.
One question is whether the popular singer Youssou N’Dour (above, left) — who attempted to run for president, but was not permitted by Wade’s government — will serve in Sall’s administration, as minister of culture or otherwise.
Sall’s first interview with the international media is here.
AllAfrica coverage of Senegal’s future here.
From ThreeHundredEight, which now projects Wildrose in majority territory in advance of Alberta’s April 23 provincial assembly elections.
If Wildrose — think of it as an Albertan answer to the U.S. tea party movement — holds on, it could knock the Progressive Conservative Party out of power for the first time in four decades.
It’s been a while since I’ve posted much about France’s upcoming presidential election, and in large part that’s because the past week has been somewhat subdued in the wake of the Toulouse shooting.
But there are three weeks left until the first round and almost five weeks left until the runoff, with a parliamentary election to follow a month thereafter.
So where is the race headed?
Nicolas Sarkozy has shown he is leagues ahead of his competitors in terms of raw political talent. He can move from European statesman to right-wing demagogue and back to statesman with dexterity. One moment, he’s the sober-minded man of the hour to stabilize Europe, the next he’s arguing to halve immigration, the next he’s assuming the mantle of counter-terroist-in-chief (never mind that he presided over an administration that knew about, and failed to apprehend, the Toulouse killer prior to his deadly shooting sprees).
The past month of the campaign has not been flawless for Sarkozy, but there’s a sense that the momentum has switched from frontrunner François Hollande to Sarkozy — if not necessarily in support, then certainly in setting the campaign’s narrative.
Hollande’s strategy — to show up as the most credible ‘non-Sarkozy’ and riding his polling lead into the Elysée — is looking ever more precarious. His cautious approach has left a space for Jean-Luc Mélenchon, whose fiery rhetoric has galvanized France’s left.
As such, a once formidable first-round lead has been reduced to a dead heat (at best). Certainly, Hollande still leads polls for the second round, but if you add together the share of the vote currently going to Sarkozy, François Bayrou and Marine Le Pen, it’s not difficult to foresee Hollande losing his second-round lead as well. Continue reading France’s election — three weeks to go