|Next election date||October 28, 2009|
|Date of last election||December 1, 2004|
|Ruling party||Front for the Liberation of Mozambique (Frelimo)|
|Current President||Armando Guebuza|
Previous election results(Assembly of the Republic Election)
|Parties||Votes||Seats (250)||Votes||Seats (250)|
|Front for the Liberation of Mozambique (Frelimo)||48,55%||133||62,03%||160|
|Mozambique National Resistance (Renamo)||38,79%||117||29,73%||90|
1994 Presidential elections
|Candidate (party)||Number of votes||% of votes|
|Armando Guebuza (Frelimo)||2 633 740||53,30%|
|Afonso Dhlakama (Renamo)||1 666 965||33,73%|
1999 Presidential elections
|Candidate (party)||Number of votes||% of votes|
|Joaquim Chissano (Frelimo)||2 338 333||52, 29%|
|Afonso Dhlakama (Renamo)||2 133 655||47, 71%|
2004 Presidential elections
|Candidate (party)||Number of votes||% of votes|
|Armando Guebuza (Frelimo)||2 004 226||63,74%|
|Afonso Dhlakama (Renamo)||998 059||31,74%|
Over the last 50 years, Mozambique has been faced with the twin struggles of liberating themselves from Portuguese colonial rule, and seeing off a violent and debilitating civil war. Mozambican politics have, to a large degree, been shaped by these two phenomena. The country's ruling party, Frelimo, was established in 1962 as a coalition of three groups as an armed resistance movement against the repressive policies of Portuguese colonial rule. After two years of mobilising and arming in neighbouring Tanzania, Frelimo guerrillas crossed the border and began to attack strategic Portuguese military targets. This signalled the beginning of the armed struggle for independence that would last until 1974 when the dictatorship of President Marcelo Caetano was overthrown by a left wing coup in Portugal. Subsequently, the incoming Portuguese government, keen to get rid of it's colonies, handed independence to Frelimo.
The People's Republic of Mozambique thus came into existence on June 25, 1975 with Samora Machel as President. Frelimo's political ideology was largely derived from a Marxist-Leninist rationale, and allied to the Soviet Union, which put it at odds with neighbouring pro western neighbours Rhodesia and South Africa, during the period when cold war rivalry was at its highest. Frelimo also supported the liberation movements of South Africa's African National Congress (ANC) party and Rhodesia's Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF) party, and gave them refuge, which led to commando raids by South African and Rhodesian forces during the 1980s. In addition, the Frelimo government had to contend with a growing peasant uprising against their socialist policies. The uprising subsequently transformed into an armed rebel movement, known as Renamo, that was supported by the Rhodesian and South African governments as an opposition group to Frelimo.
What followed was a violent civil war in which Renamo guerillas attacked points and symbols of Frelimo authority. The war eventually came to an end with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the apparent failure of communism. Further, peaceful dialogue between disputing parties in South Africa played a role in the two warring factions negotiating and reaching consensus on October 4, 1992, when a General Peace Agreement between Frelimo and Renamo was signed in Rome, bringing to an end the civil war that debilitated the countryside and bought the economy to its knees. The peace accord allowed for a ceasefire and provision for multiparty elections.
The war of independence and the civil war played an influential role in shaping the political parties and subsequent nature of politics in Mozambique, as Frelimo and Renamo have been the two dominant parties in the country's politics for the last decade. Despite making initial strides in reconciliation, both parties have struggled to make the transition from being armed liberation movements to political parties.
Mozambique's new constitution, signed in 1990, brought an end to the State's commitment to a single party socialist system and made provision for the country's first democratic election in 1994. As predicted, the election was dominated by the two parties of Renamo and Frelimo, with the latter winning the poll with 44% of the vote.
The proceeding years were somewhat of a transitional period for both parties, especially Renamo, as they tried to come to grips with their new role as political parties, and struggled to shake off their image as armed resistance movements. Owing to Frelimo's greater experience in the political landscape they were often able to outmanoeuvre their counterparts in governing structures and were subsequently able to gradually increase their majority in Parliament in elections that followed. Renamo, nevertheless, was still able to maintain a strong and competitive supporter base, particularly from the more rural parts of the country. Politics during this transitional period were often characterised by bickering and feuding between Frelimo and Renamo, which alarmed the international community and incited fears that the country could once again be plunged into civil war.
More recently, Frelimo and Renamo, have been able to cooperate better, and settle their differences through government structures. Both parties have, however, experienced a great deal of infighting and internal problems. Renamo is still experiencing difficulties in transforming itself into an effective political party, which has been compounded by a breakaway party, known as the Democratic Movement for Mozambique (MDM) formed in 2008, while it is also reported that the internal Frelimo structure is starting to become more and more factionalised, which could represent an imminent split.
In terms of Mozambique's Constitution, the Assembly of the Republic consists of 250 members. They are elected on a five-year basis through a proportional representation system according to the constituency's population, with 248 seats elected from ten provinces and the city of Maputo, which each act as a constituency. The remaining two members are elected by expatriates from Africa and Europe.
To become President of Mozambique, candidates require an absolute majority of the vote. If 50% of the vote is not achieved by any candidate in the first round of elections, a second run-off round is required which is contested between the two strongest candidates from the previous round. The President is elected for a five-year term.
In 2008, a faction within Renamo broke away to form a new party, MDM, founded by the Mayor of Beira, Daviz Simango, and other former prominent Renamo party members. With waning support and a lack of a coherent policy, Renamo are tipped to lose out to the newly formed MDM as the official opposition to Frelimo in the upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections. Subsequently, the emergence of MDM could reshape the nature of Mozambique politics as Frelimo's dominance is accompanied by increasing inequality in the country that is frustrating a large proportion of the population. Although much of MDM's support will be derived from previous Renamo supporters, the emergence of a third viable political force will provide another option for the electorate and re-energise politics within the country.
One of the major concerns around elections in Mozambique is the poor voter turnout. Turnout for the 2004 presidential election was 36%, which is down from 70% in 1999 and 80% in 1994. Again, the poor turnout can be attributed to a lack of viable political options for the electorate. It also represents a massive untapped political force in the country, as the party which can access and mobilise the support of these voters, has the means of achieving a massive support base.
Current President Armando Guebuza faces another rematch with his Renamo rival Afonso Dhlakama, who has run three unsuccessful presidential campaigns. In addition, Renamo has never won a parliamentary majority. With waning support, and a breakaway faction, it looks unlikely that Dhlakama and his party will have much success in the upcoming elections. Frelimo is likely to win another parliamentary majority with Guebuza presiding for another five-year term. A key question in the upcoming elections will be how well the new party, MDM, will perform.
African Elections Project - Mozambique Elections 2009: Renamo publishes election manifesto (October 20, 2009).
African Elections Database - Elections in Mozambique (October 16, 2009).
Agence France - Presse - Mozambique elections a test for struggling opposition (October 20, 2009).
AllAfrica - Mozambique: Elections 2009 - Frelimo Finalises Electoral Manifesto (October 19, 2009).
CIA World Factbook - Mozambique (October 16, 2009).
Electoral Institute of Southern Africa - Mozambique: 2009 Voter registration and Assembly of the Republic seat allocation (October 19, 2009).
Electoral Institute of Southern Africa - Observer Mission to the 2009 Mozambique Elections (October 19, 2009).
Electoral Institute of Southern Africa - Mozambique: 1999 Assembly of the Republic national results (October 16, 2009).
Electoral Institute of Southern Africa - Mozambique: 2004 Assembly of the Republic national results (October 16, 2009).
Electoral Institute of Southern Africa - Mozambique: 1999 Presidential election results (October 16, 2009).
Institute for Security Studies - Mozambique - History and Politics (October 19, 2009).
International Foundation for Electoral Systems - Election Guide - Election Profile for Mozambique (October 20, 2009).
Institute for Security Studies - Mozambique Government Launches New Reintegration Process (October 20, 2009).
International Foundation for Electoral Systems - Mozambique: Active parties and coalitions (October 16, 2009).
International Foundation for Electoral Systems - Mozambique: Country Profile (October 16, 2009).
Research Channel - Mozambique (October 16, 2009).
Reintegration Process (October 20, 2009).
International Foundation for Electoral Systems - Mozambique: Active parties