Cape Verde elections: Florida syndrome hits again

The Presidential elections in Cape Verde, an archipelago of nine islands off the Western coast of Africa, have ended in the victory of the PAICV candidate, Pedro Pires, by a majority of just 164 votes. The PAICV (African Party for the Independence of Cape Verde) evolved from the former independence movement which fought against the colonial power, Portugal. The opposition party candidate, Carlos Veiga (Democracy Movement Party) says he will not accept the results (50.05% against 49.95%). In an action replay of the last US elections, in which Gore and Bush fought for the presidency not in the ballot-box, but in the courts of Florida, as postal votes were counted, discounted, counted again and discounted again, the two candidates for the Presidency of Cape Verde dispute a hotly contested vote. Pedro Pires’ supporters claim he has a majority of 164 votes. Carlos Veiga claims to have a majority of 214 votes, and immediately started to celebrate: “We can start celebrating right away! There is no chance to alter this victory we gained in the ballots! The victory is ours!” claimed Veiga, despite the fact that Pedro Pires, ex-Prime Minister of Cape Verde between 1975 and 1991, had been declared the winner of the second round of the presidential the Direction of the Electoral Support Services. The president-elect, Pedro Pires, presented a calm and low-key discourse: “As President-elect, right now my preoccupation is to guarantee the tranquillity and stability of government”. It should be remembered that the PAICV won the Parliamentary elections on 14th January, 2001 by an absolute majority, after another victory by the PAICV, in the municipal elections of February, 2000. As in the USA, the situation is now claim against counter-claim, count and re-count until finally one of the parties gives up. The abstention rate was 41%, another lesson for democracy. In these days of 50-50 results, every vote counts and if modern societies are to call themselves true democracies, then it only makes sense to do so with a near totality of possible votes cast. Otherwise, the Florida Syndrome will continue to haunt electoral processes around the world, ironically the ghost of what purports to be the world’s greatest democracy.

Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey Pravda.Ru Lisbon

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