|Party||Votes||% of votes||Direct seats||Proportional seats||Total seats|
|People's Party||31 123||88.56%||25||6||31|
|Popular Democratic Movement||3 828||9.6%||0||0||0|
Between September 29 and October 1, the island archipelago of the Seychelles held an early Parliamentary election, following the opposition boycott of the National Assembly in July 2011, culminating in its dissolution. The opposition at the time, the Seychelles National Party (SNP), boycotted parliamentary procedures in protest over supposed presidential electoral fraud. SNP presidential candidate, Wavel Ramkalawan, accused People’s Party candidate and eventual winner of the election, James Michel, of “political bribery”.
The ensuing election, ordered by the Constitutional Court, saw the ruling People’s Party win every single parliamentary seat available. This dominance, however, was enhanced by the SNP’s boycott of the vote. This left a small breakaway faction within the SNP, calling itself the Popular Democratic Movement (PDM), to contest the election.
The PDM felt it was their duty to at least contest the vote to prevent the island reverting back to a single party State. Unfortunately, the newly formed party was unable to effectively contest the SNP’s dominance at the poll and, despite garnering 9.6% of the vote, this translated into no Parliamentary seats.
The island saw one of the lowest voter turnouts in its electoral history at 74.3%. This represents an 11% decrease from Presidential elections earlier in the year. There were also a high number of spoilt votes.
Parliamentary electoral system
The Seychelles’ National Assembly is a unicameral system made up of 34 directly elected seats. The country has adopted a mixed system where 25 members are directly elected by a simple majority vote. The remaining members are appointed by party leaders, with the number allocated to each party proportional to its performance. Parties require at least 10% of the vote to nominate a member to the National Assembly.
The PDM were unable to nominate any members to Parliamentary posts because it did not receive enough votes to qualify for any seats. The People’s Party won six proportional seats based on its proportion of the vote.
Despite Michel’s overwhelming victory, both he and PDM leader David Pierre expressed dissatisfaction with the way the proportional seats were attributed. Michel expected to garner more seats for his party given his overwhelming majority of the vote, while Pierre was expecting to get at least one seat given its proportion of the vote.
Michel also expressed disappointment that, because the opposition now had no Parliamentary seats, debate would be severely limited. He did, however, emphasise that the SNP-led government remained committed to public engagement of all political groups and civil society.
Pierre argued that the dominance of the SNP reflected in the vote did not bode well for democracy in the Seychelles, especially since the opposition now left without a platform to raise concerns about issues affecting the islands.
Under Michel’s leadership, Seychelles has liberalised its economy in an attempt to attract foreign investment, specifically in the tourism and property sector. In doing so, the country is vulnerable to global market volatility.
Michel will, therefore, do well to guide the island State through the turbulent global economic environment and attract investment through its thriving tourist trade. Politically, the President and the SNP will also have to negotiate criticism, specifically from opposition party factions, which argue that Michel lacks legitimacy on the back of the boycott. He is, thus, faced with the task of restoring confidence in the island’s political structures and furthering democracy that has been adversely affected after the opposition boycott of the election.
Bernama. Seychelles ruling party wins all the seats in Parliamentary elections (October 3, 2011).
IPU. Seychelles National Assembly (October 5, 2011).
ETN. Seychelles election results are out (October 3, 2011).
Polity. Seychelles votes in Parliamentary poll after rivals boycott (September 29, 2011).