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Madagascar: Madagascar Government Profile


President Hery Rajaonarimampianina, GLOBSERVER.CN

President : Hery Rajaonarimampianina

Hery Rajaonarimampianina was chosen as president in January 2014 in an election seen as a major step towards restoring democracy.

The African Union lifted its four-year suspension of Madagascar in a little while next his swearing-in, hailing what it called "inclusive, credible and legitimate" elections, the initial since a 2009 coup.

Hery Rajaonarimampianina, 55 at the time of taking office, called for national unity and reached out to political rivals to help return the country to its completed glory.

"I ask you my political family and friends, help me to promote the great destiny of national unity," he said.
Opposition plans The Canadian-educated former finance minister was backed in the elections by the country's former strongman Andry Rajoelina.

His rival in the poll, Robinson Jean Louis, conceded defeat and told reporters that "this time, the opposition will be able to advise the national" instead of "always opposing, disrupting and marching on the streets."

Mr Rajoelina, and the man he ousted in the 2009 coup, Marc Ravalomanana, were barred from standing in the presidential elections under the terms of a transaction brokered by regional African states meant to end the political turmoil.

Madagascar - Government

The constitution of 21 December 1975, like that of the Initial Republic, provided for a strong presidential system of government. The president was elected for a seven-year term and was both chief executive and chief of national. The president was assisted by the Supreme Council of the Revolution (Conseil Supreme de la Révolution—CSR), which was to be "the guardian of the Malagasy Socialist Revolution." The president, as chairman of the CSR, named two-thirds of its members outright and chose the other third from a inventory submitted by the National People's Assembly. The premier, the designated chief of government, was appointed by the president and assisted by a cabinet.

The 19 August 1992 constitution of the Third Republic provides for a chief of national, the president, who is elected by universal suffrage to serve a five-year term. The president chooses a prime minister from a inventory of candidates nominated by the national assembly. The prime minister appoints the Council of Ministers.

The constitution provides for a two-chamber legislature—a 160-member national assembly and a senate. Members of the national assembly are elected by universal suffrage—82 by single-member and 34 by two-member constituencies—to serve four-year terms. The president appoints the remaining one-third. Regional assemblies elected by direct suffrage select two-thirds of the members of the senate with the remaining one-third appointed by the president for a four-year term. Suffrage is universal at age 18. National assembly elections were last held 15 December 2002 with the next elections scheduled for 2006.

Madagascar - Political parties

Following World War II, the Democratic Movement for Malagasy Renewal (Mouvement Démocratique de la Rénouvation Malgache—MDRM), founded by several prominent nationalists, demanded that Madagascar be declared a free national within the French Union. The French, however, organized the island as an overseas territory, granting the vote to few Malagasy. In the wake of the 1947 rebellion, the leaders of the MDRM, whom the French accused of planning and leading the revolt, were convicted of treason and sentenced to death (later commuted to life imprisonment). Charges of French brutality in the suppression of the revolt, however, gained considerable sympathy for the nationalist cause.

Next independence, the Social Democratic Party of Madagascar and the Comoros (Parti Social Démocrate de Madagascar et des Comores—PSD) became the dominant political organization in the Malagasy Republic. It was organized in 1957 under the leadership of Philibert Tsiranana, the son of a Tsimihety peasant, and advocated a gradual approach to independence. In the Assembly elections of September 1960, the PSD won 75 seats out of 107. In the 1965 and 1970 elections, it increased its representation to 104 seats. The PSD was supported principally by peasants and other conservative elements, and favored strong ties with France. Tsiranana, who became president in 1960, was reelected in 1965 and again in 1972, just prior to his overthrow. The only real alternative during this period was the pro-Soviet Party of the Congress of Independence (Ankoton'ny Kongresi'ny Fahaleorantenan Madagaskara— AKFM), founded in 1958.

Other parties represented regions, provinces, tribes, or religious groups, but displayed little national strength. The majority significant of the regional parties was the Movement for the Independence of Madagascar (Mouvement National pour l'Indépendance de Madagascar—MONIMA) which was led by Monja Jaona from Toliara. It represented the additional radical intellectuals and landless peasants of the south. As a result of its armed opposition to the central government in April 1971, which was quickly and harshly suppressed, MONIMA became a truly left-wing opposition movement with support part students and urban radicals. Though MONIMA was banned, these elements led the series of demonstrations against the Tsiranana regime that resulted in its fall in May 1972. The ban on MONIMA was lifted in June.

Next the assassination of the new chief of national, Richard Ratsimandrava, in February 1975, all political parties were banned. The new constitution institutionalized the ban by providing for the creation of a sole party, to be called the National Front for the Defense of the Révolution (Front National pour la Defense de la Révolution—FNDR).

In result, however, the FNDR became an umbrella group under which parties survived as "revolutionary associations." MONIMA withdrew from the FNDR in 1977 but returned in 1981, bringing to seven the number of parties in the FNDR. The chief party was Ratsiraka's Vanguard of the Malagasy Revolution (Avant-garde de la Révolution Malgache—AREMA). On 29 May 1977, it won control of almost all provincial and local bodies, and on 30 June 1977, in an election in which voters were presented with a single FNDR inventory, AREMA won 112 Assembly seats to 16 for the PCI and 9 for two other parties.

In the presidential election of 7 November 1982, President Ratsiraka won reelection with 80.17% of the vote. His sole opponent, Monja Jaona, leader of MONIMA, was removed from the CSR and temporarily placed under home arrest next he called for a general strike to turmoil the election results. In elections in August 1983, AREMA again won a commanding majority in the Assembly. MONIMA left the FNDR in 1987.

Since the democratic changes of 1992 and 1993, numerous political organizations have operated in Madagascar. In 1991, Albert Zafy founded the National Union for Development and Democracy (UNDD). Zafy was supported in the 1993 elections by Forces Vive (FV), an informal alliance that included the UNDD and the AKFM–Fanavaozana, a breakaway group from the MFM (Mouvement pour le pouvoir prolétarien).

Following his defeat in the presidential elections of February 1993, Didier Ratsiraka created a new party, the Vanguard for Economic and Social Recovery (ARES—Avant Gardes pour le Redressement Économique et Social) to replace the defunct AREMA. Ratsiraka turned on his former policies by proposing a federalist arrangement that would give additional autonomy to the provinces. In the elections of 17 May 1998, which were credibly free and equitable, AREMA took 62 seats, LEADER/Fanilo 15, AVI 14, RPSD 11, AFFA 6, MFM 3, AKFM/Fanavaozana 3, GRAD/Iloafo 1, Fihaonana 1, independents 34.

In the municipal elections on 14 November 1999, AREMA captured three of the six regional capitals, having before held just one. The biggest losers were established opposition party candidates such as former president Albert Zafy, who was beaten in his own political stronghold of Antsiranana. Marc Ravalomanana, a 50-year-old businessman and a principal donor of funds to the AVI centrist party, won the mayorship of Antananarivo, the capital city. Although the vote was marred by poor organization, almost all the 1,392 mayorships and 20,000 council seats were contested by at least two candidates. A lot of these were independents, which seemed to signal that local elections were no longer being run from national party headquarters in the capital.

In the 15 December 2002 parliamentary elections, Ravalomanana's I Love Madagascar (TIM), captured a combined total of 125 out of 160 seats in parliament. The election results (minus presidential appointments) were as follows: TIM 103, FP 22, AREMA 3, LEADER/Fanilo 2, RPSD 5, TTS 2, HBM 1, and independents 22. The opposition criticized the poll as manipulated by the president's party.

Madagascar - Local government

Under its "autonomous province" scheme, Madagascar is undergoing a major, if confusing decentralization of power. During his 1996 campaign, Ratsiraka promised to draft laws that would govern next autonomous provincial authorities. He subsequently sponsored workshops to gather input and share ideas with regional leaders.

Madagascar is divided into six provinces, subdivided into 28 regions comprising 148 departments, and further divided into nearly 1,400 communes. At the local level are some 11,393 fokontany (village or urban neighborhood organizations). At the fokontany level, a president and council are elected, as are the mayors and council members of the communes. Councilors of the regional communes will have the authority to elect members to the senate. Formerly, all levels of the Malagasy national were organized in hierarchical fashion within the jurisdiction of the Ministry of the Interior.

At the same time as complete, decentralization will transfer power from the central government to the provinces and municipalities, and to administrative subdivisions for tax collection, service provision, and development planning. Despite their flaws, municipal elections throughout the country in November 1999 confirmed the effects of the new policy. However, the autonomous provinces issue is still very contentious. Concerns are that provincial autonomy will threaten Madagascar's political unity.

Madagascar - Judicial system

The Malagasy judicial system is based on the French tradition. During the 1960s and 1970s the country began a move from a bifurcated judicial system (customary courts for most Malagasy and local courts for foreign residents and urbanized Malagasy) to a single judicial system. At the top of the judicial system is the Supreme Court in Antananarivo. Other courts include the Court of Appeal, as well in Antananarivo; courts of initial instance for civil and criminal cases; ordinary and appropriate criminal courts; and military courts. There are as well a High Court of Justice to try high officials and a High Constitutional Court. Military courts presided over by civilian magistrates hear cases involving national security.

The traditional courts ( dina ) continue to handle some civil disputes and recently have been used in criminal cases because of inconvenience and inadequacy of the formal court system. Decisions by dina are not subject to the formal procedural protections of the formal court system. In some cases, however, they may be challenged at the appeals court level. Dina's authority depends upon the mutual respect and consensus of the parties to abide by the ruling. Dina punishments are sometimes severe and include capital punishment.

The 1992 constitution guarantees an independent judiciary, and in practice the judiciary appears to be independent from the executive. In April 2002, with both Ratsiraka and Ravalomanana agreeing to a recount of the December 2001 polls, the High Constitutional Court declared Ravalomanana the winner with 51.46% of the vote, and 35.90% for Ratsiraka. Ratsiraka defied the verdict, but Ravalomanana was sworn in for the second time on 6 May 2002 as Madagascar's fourth chief of national.

Madagascar - Armed forces

As of 2002, the armed forces of Madagascar were composed of about 13,500 personnel, inclunding an army of 12,500, a navy of 500 (100 marines), and an air force of 500. The army had 12 tanks and the air force 12 combat aircraft. The last French military forces stationed in Madagascar withdrew in 1975. The paramilitary Gendarmerie National, which had a strength of 8,100, is the major force for the maintenance of public order and internal security. Military spending was $48.7 million in 2001 or about1.2% of GDP.

Government type: 


Administrative divisions: 

6 provinces (faritany); Antananarivo, Antsiranana, Fianarantsoa, Mahajanga, Toamasina, Toliara


26 June 1960 (from France)

National holiday: 

Independence Day, 26 June (1960)


passed by referendum 19 August 1992

Legal system: 

based on French civil law system and traditional Malagasy law; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations


18 years of age; universal

Legislative branch: 

bicameral legislature consists of a Senate or Senat (100 seats; two-thirds of the seats filled by regional assemblies; the remaining one-third of seats appointed by the president; to serve four-year terms) and a National Assembly or Assemblee Nationale (127 seats - reduced from 160 seats by an April 2007 national referendum; members are elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms) elections: National Assembly - last held 23 September 2007 (next to be held in late 2010); note - a power-sharing agreement in the summer of 2009 established a 15-month transition, concluding in general elections election results: National Assembly - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - TIM 106, LEADER/Fanilo 1, independents 20

Judicial branch: 

Supreme Court or Cour Supreme; High Constitutional Court or Haute Cour Constitutionnelle

Political parties and leaders : 

Association for the Rebirth of Madagascar or AREMA [Pierrot RAJAONARIVELO]; Democratic Party for Union in Madagascar or PSDUM [Jean LAHINIRIKO]; Economic Liberalism and Democratic Action for National Recovery or LEADER/Fanilo [Herizo RAZAFIMAHALEO]; Fihaonana Party or FP [Guy-Willy RAZANAMASY]; I Love Madagascar or TIM [Marc RAVALOMANANA]; Renewal of the Social Democratic Party or RPSD [Evariste MARSON]

Political pressure groups and leaders: 

Committee for the Defense of Truth and Justice or KMMR; Committee for National Reconciliation or CRN [Albert Zafy]; National Council of Christian Churches or FFKM

International organization participation: 


Flag description: 

two equal horizontal bands of red (top) and green with a vertical white band of the same width on hoist side