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DIPD prepares Myanmar political parties to observe elections

The November parliamentary elections in Myanmar present an important test of the country’s nascent democratic reforms. A credible, transparent and participatory electoral process will increase confidence in the direction of the country’s democratic trajectory. Political parties, through their agents’ observation of the polling day and related processes, provide a crucial check on the quality of the electoral process. To support parties to make informed, reliable and evidence-based assessment of the polling day process, DIPD provided a wide-reaching capacity building support training programme to political party agents around the country in September and October. In total, DIPD trained over 800 agents from 43 parties in eight cities in seven states and regions, including ethnic states marginalized in Myanmar politics and remote areas underserved by observers.

Training in observation

Parties gained both knowledge and practice in observing polling processes through DIPD’s participatory methods, which included observation quizzes, polling simulations, and small group discussions. One Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) participants from Kalay praised the training approach saying, “We can all actively participate, discuss and ask questions to DIPD and the Union Election Commission (UEC) representative.” DIPD also provided participants with updated information on all the latest electoral developments. Finally, DIPD distributed a range of materials to guide parties in their observation work, including a manual, sample forms, and other relevant documentation, distributing over 22,000 manuals and 800 copies of a set of useful materials.

One participant reflecting on the results of the group discussion

One participant reflecting on the results of the group discussion

Working together for democracy

DIPD also used the capacity development sessions to hold dialogues with parties on how to address their concerns during the campaigns and pre-election period. Common concerns raised by the parties included concerns over the voter list, questions on the advance voting process, and the use of intimidation and money during campaigns. DIPD highlighted the available avenues that parties can use to address their concerns, including the Political Parties Code of Conduct Monitoring Committee, the Union Election Commission-sponsored mediation committees, and the UEC’s electoral dispute resolution procedures. One participant from the National League for Democracy (NLD) emphasized, “this dialogue is a sign that we are all willing to work together for democracy.”

Parties in Myanmar demonstrated their high demand for support in election observation, through their high levels of attendance and participation in the programme despite the conflicting demands of the busy campaign period. DIPD remains committed to supporting the engagement of parties in democratic processes and multiparty dialogue to build consensus among diverse political parties in the post-election period.

 

For more information

Khin Thazin Myint, Myanmar Country Coordinator, +95 9 421 009 560 (ktzm@dipd.dk) or

Hanne Lund Madsen, Senior Adviser, +45 38402802 (hlm@dipd.dk)

Read more about the DIPD engagement in Myanmar or at the MMDP website.

CCM in Tanzania wins presidency – closest competition ever

On Thursday 29th of October, The Election Commission in Tanzania declared the Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) presidential candidate John Magufuli (picture on the left) the winner of the presidential election with 58% of the total votes. The new CCM president is taking over from Jakaya Kikwete, who is standing down after two terms in office.  Magufuli got 2 million votes more than his main rival, Edward Lowassa, the presidential candidate from the UKAWA coalition which has been established by 4 opposition parties in order to challenge the CCM led government. Lowassa recently joined the biggest opposition party Chama Cha Demokrasia Na Maendeleo (CHADEMA) and it is the first time that opposition parties have come together with a single candidate to challenge the CCM led government. Although CCM was able to secure two-thirds majority in parliament, the opposition managed to win more than 70 parliamentary seats, which is the most since multiparty democracy came into effect in 1995 and a major step forward for the opposition. The elections on Sunday were the most competitive in Tanzania’s history of CCM 54 year rule. As a surprise to many people, 9 Tanzanian government ministers lost their parliamentary seats to the UKAWA coalition, including high-profile CCM ministers such as the minister for agriculture. The ruling party lost seats in key areas of the country, including the urban centers of Dar es Salaam, Arusha and Kilimanjaro.

Winner of the presidential election, John Magufuli from ruling party CCM

Winner of the presidential election, John Magufuli from ruling party CCM

Will peace continue?

Following the announcement of the new president of Tanzania, CCM supporters were celebrating the results in the streets of Dar es Saalam while groups from the opposition parties demonstrated and claimed the elections had not been free and fair. Now it is the hope in Tanzania, that the country can stay peaceful following the announcements of results and the annuled election on Zanzibar. Clashes between rivalling parties have been reported and some has led to arrestments. Police has used tear gas to control some of the demonstrations following the elections on Sunday, but fortunately no use of excessive powers have been used so far by the police. The day of the election was generally peaceful and many people came out to cast their votes. Both the presidential candidates, John Magufuli from the ruling party CCM and Edward Lowassa of the opposition (UKAWA), have both strongly called for peace ahead of the election. Although polling lines were very long at many of the 63,000 polling stations nationwide, people queued patiently for their turn, many waiting since the early hours of the morning. The voter turn up was very high with 68% of the population voting compared to only 40% in the 2010 elections.

International observers have largely praised the conduct of Sunday’s vote. According to the European Union election observers, the elections were generally well organised, despite irregularities in some polling stations and insufficient efforts at transparency from the election administrations. Observers also emphasized that state media failed to provide equitable and fair coverage of the campaigns and a level playing field for contestant. The elections “were highly contested, largely well administered, although insufficient efforts at transparency meant that both the National Electoral Commission and the Zanzibar Electoral Commission did not enjoy the full confidence of all parties”, the EU observers said in a statement. Observer teams from the African Union and SADC also said that the vote had largely been “free and fair” despite their raised concern over the annulment of Zanzibar’s local elections. Both CCM and CHADEMA have stated that there were shortcomings in the administration of the polls Sunday.

Cancellation of elections in Zanzibar

In the semi-autonomous Zanzibar the elections for president and the archipelago’s parliament were annulled by the National Election Commission on Wednesday due to what Zanzibar Electoral Commission chairman Jecha Salim Jecha has called gross irregularities, including double voting, rigging and physical fights between rival election commissioners. When the re-election will take place has not yet been decided and the opposition is strongly opposing this as they believe this is an attempt to challenge the opposition party Civic United Front (CUF) winning the election as Zanzibar has traditionally been a CUF stronghold.  International as well as national actors have shown their huge concern about the cancellation and call for Zanzibar Election Commission chairman to recall his statements. The EU also expressed concerns about lack of transparency in the electoral bodies both in mainland Tanzania and Zanzibar as against their conclusion that the election was free and fair. It is still unclear when possible new elections for Zanzibar’s president and parliament will be held. The opposition parties are saying they will only accept a reelection if this is under international observation.

Reports are made about Police in Zanzibar fired teargas to disperse opposition supporters after Seif Sharif Hamad declared himself winner of the presidential election on the island, ahead of incumbent and CCM candidate, Dr Ali Mohamed Shein.

Clashes were reported in other parts of the country between rival supporters and with the police, testing Tanzania.

Major improvements for women: From special seats to now winning constituencies

Voters search for their names at a polling station in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania Oct. 25, 2015. Photo by Monika Emch/Flickr

As election results from the presidential and parliamentary seats are being announced by the National Election Commission, there is a great success to be celebrated within the area of women in politics. Results clearly show that women have proved their power by winning in some of the constituencies that have traditionally been won by influential men. This includes CHADEMA’s Esther Matiko, who used to be special seats MP in the dissolved Parliament but this time around was able to defeat long-serving MP and minister for Agriculture, Food and Cooperatives. In Tabora Region, Magdalena Sakaya from CUF who also served in the previous parliament as special seats legislator made it to parliament after having won over a long serving MP and Cabinet Minister. Tanzania also made history by electing the country’s first female vice president from CCM, Samia Suluhu Hassan.

The victory of the female politicians can be seen as a result of a number of leadership and empowerment strategies, which encouraged women to compete in constituencies regardless of the seat provision. As a result of this, 10 women have contested for the first time in the constituencies. The special seats for women, however, still played an important role in the 2015 elections, as the majority of the women who made their entrance in the constituencies won due to this scheme. One of the organizations that have worked tediously towards getting more women actively engaged in politics, is the Tanzania Centre for Multiparty Democracy, whom DIPD supports specifically to strengthen the capacity of women to take on leadership positions in their political parties.

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2014 multiparty event in Tanzania in relation to the launch of the DIPD publication ”Political Parties at Local Level” in Kiswahili

The Danish Institute for Parties and Democracy has a 3 year partnership on a democracy project with Tanzania Centre for Democracy (TCD). In addition, the Danish Conservative People’s Party has formed a democracy project with the opposition party CHADEMA and the Danish Social-Liberal Party supports a democracy project with Civic United Front. Both with funding from DIPD. Read more details about the projects below.

For more information contact DIPD Coordinator Susanne Adelhardt at: suad@dipd.dk

DIPD supports the following democracy projects in Tanzania:

DIPD and Tanzania Centre for Democracy
Since March 2012 DIPD and Tanzania Centre for Democracy (TCD), which is governed by all the political parties in parliament, have had a partnership. The current 2014-2017 project seeks to support multiparty democracy in Tanzania through a strengthening of the multiparty dialogue processes and the ability of political parties to perform their democratic functions.
The Conservative People’s Party of Denmark and CHADEMA
The Danish Conservative People’s Party (Det Konservative Folkeparti) has been in partnership with one of the leading opposition parties Chama Cha Demokrasia Na Maendeleo (CHADEMA) since 2013. The current democracy project seeks to increase the representation and influence of women and youth in the party and strengthen the party organisation.
The Danish Social-Liberal Party and Tanzania’s Civic United Front
The Danish political party, the Social-Liberals (Radikale Venstre) entered a democracy project partnership with the Civic United Front in 2012. The purpose of the current 2015-2017 project is to increase the representation of women, youth and marginalised groups in the party.

Elections in Tanzania on Sunday – multiparty support needed more than ever!

The presidential and parliamentary elections on Sunday, October 25 are predicated by many observers to become the closest elections in Tanzania’s history. Campaigning is being carried out by the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party and major opposition parties such as Chama Cha Demokrasia Na Maendeleo (CHADEMA) and Civic United Front (CUF).


Pro-Lowassa Rally. Photo by Osoro Nyawangah/flickr

CCM has traditionally had monopoly on political power since 1992 when multi-party democracy was reintroduced in Tanzania with CCM winning the presidential elections ever since. After 23 years in power this election may tip the scale, when 24 million registered voters are expected to cast their vote at the ballot box on Sunday.

Prior to the elections taking place there are worries among people in Tanzania regarding the late release of voter’s lists and lack of total number of polling stations to be provided by the National Election Commission. Many voters are also worried about the new electronic voter system – will it function as intended? Can it be trusted? The questions are many.

Trying times for CCM

CCM has been under increasing pressure since President Kikwete initiated a new constitution making process four years ago. The constitutional review commission amongst other things proposed that the power of the executive be curtailed, and that Zanzibar should be given more power to self-rule. Fractions within CCM rejected many of the recommendations to great objection from the opposition parties and civil society. As a result the opposition parties Chama Cha Demokrasia Na Maendeleo (CHADEMA) and Civic United Front (CUF) and two others united to form the umbrella coalition UKAWA to ensure a fair constitution and as a strategy to win the elections with a united opposition. Strategically, the coalition decided to enter only one joint candidate in each constituency ensuring it with better odds against the incumbent party.

Rally for John Magufuli CCM Presidential Candidate 2015, Mbeya Mbali District-Rujewa. Photo by PhilipeCarr/Flickr

Rally for John Magufuli CCM Presidential Candidate 2015, Mbeya Mbali District-Rujewa. Photo by PhilipeCarr/Flickr

Recently CCM was subject to a somewhat tumultuous selection process for its presidential candidate. Internal power struggles in the party saw President Jakaya Kikwete bypass the former CCM Prime Minister Edward Lowassa’s bid for the nomination in favour of the Foreign Minister, Bernard Membe. Membe was later eliminated from the race leaving the slot open for John Magufuli, the Minister of Works and Roads.  In turn, the former CCM candidate Edward Lowassa defected to the opposition party’s umbrella coalition UKAWA, becoming CHADEMA’s presidential candidate. Lowassa’s decision to join CHADEMA has not been welcomed by all in the opposition, causing fissures within the party.

Danish support to multiparty efforts in Tanzania

Ahead of Sunday’s elections the Tanzania Centre for Democracy (TCD), which is a multiparty platform supported by the Danish Institute for Parties and Democracies (DIPD) has observed that many people fear that violence may break out on Election Day. This is due to the fact that people are planning to remain at the polling stations in a bid to guard their votes from being stolen.

The Danish Institute for Parties and Democracy has supported the Tanzania Centre for Democracy (TCD) since 2012 in their work towards strengthening dialogue within and amongst political parties and civil society to foster multiparty democracy. Over the last couple of weeks the multiparty platform TCD has organized different initiatives to raise awareness through dialogue and passing on an agenda of peace to the people. Since September 2015 the multiparty platform TCD has conducted dialogue trainings at 19 dialogue platforms in the Districts. At the national level, the multiparty platform has conducted a 2- day national conference on peace in partnership with the Inter-Religious Council of Peace Tanzania.

It remains to be determined whether peace will prevail once the polls narrow, whether election observers deem the elections free and fair, and just as important whether Tanzania will be able exhibit the democratic maturity needed, to ensure that power is transferred in a peaceful manner from the ruling party to the opposition if UKAWA wins. Come Sunday the answers to at least some of the questions will be revealed.

For further information about the work that DIPD supports in Tanzania, please contact DIPD Project Coordinator Susanne Adelhardt at: suad@dipd.dk

DIPD supports the following democracy projects in Tanzania:

DIPD and Tanzania Centre for Democracy
Since March 2012 DIPD and Tanzania Centre for Democracy (TCD), which is governed by all the political parties in parliament, have had a partnership. The current 2014-2017 project seeks to support multiparty democracy in Tanzania through a strengthening of the multiparty dialogue processes and the ability of political parties to perform their democratic functions.
The Conservative People’s Party of Denmark and CHADEMA
The Danish Conservative People’s Party (Det Konservative Folkeparti) has been in partnership with one of the leading opposition parties Chama Cha Demokrasia Na Maendeleo (CHADEMA) since 2013. The current democracy project seeks to increase the representation and influence of women and youth in the party and strengthen the party organisation.
The Danish Social-Liberal Party and Tanzania’s Civic United Front
The Danish political party, the Social-Liberals (Radikale Venstre) entered a democracy project partnership with the Civic United Front in 2012. The purpose of the current 2015-2017 project is to increase the representation of women, youth and marginalised groups in the party.

Concerns of fraud overshadow the 2015 Tanzanian Elections

A brief of the political development written by Rolf Aagaard-Svendsen, Coordinator from the Danish Conservative People’s Party.

During the last two years The Danish Conservative People’s Party and CHADEMA (Chama cha Demokrasiana Maendeleo) have worked together on a democracy project called “Empowering Women and Youths towards Multiparty Democracy in Tanzania”. CHADEMA is the largest opposition party in Tanzania, and the elections for president, parliament, and ward councils on 25 October is of course an important milestone for the party.

Until 1992, CCM (Chama Cha Mapinduzi) was the only legal political party in Tanzania, so for obvious reasons CCM has dominated Tanzania’s political life since independence. There was no distinction between the party and the state during the years as a one-party state, and CCM still dominates the public authorities. It has been difficult for new parties to operate and to gain ground under such conditions, but the opposition parties have grown in each election since the first multiparty election in 1995. This time, the four major opposition parties CHADEMA, CUF, NCCR-Mageuzi and NLD have formed a coalition called UKAWA, and for the first time a change of power is considered as a realistic scenario.

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Helle Sjelle, former MP and Rolf Aaagard-Svendsen, Chairman of the International Committee in the Conservative People’s Party at a ceremony in Tanzania where they sign their new 2014-2017 partnership agreement (photo by John Mrema, 2014).

Coalition building in the making

There is no tradition for making political coalitions in Tanzania as there is in Denmark, and the electoral first past the post system makes it extremely difficult to make coalitions. Nevertheless, the four parties in UKAWA have succeeded to choose only one candidate for each post. This has not been costless for the parties, and many sacrifices have been made through the selection process.  Because CHADEMA is the biggest party, it was agreed that the presidential candidate should be a member of CHADEMA. However, it was a surprise that CHADEMA/UKAWA chose the former CCM Prime Minister Edward Lowassa as the Presidential Candidate and Mr. Duni Haji from CUF as his running mate. According to law, both candidates must come from the same party, so they are now both members of CHADEMA. Because of that, the Secretary General of CHADEMA and the chair of CUF both decided to resign from their parties.

UKAWA pledges and promises

CHADEMA officially launched its campaigns and election manifesto on August 29. The campaigns have been hammering on the election’s main theme of “TIME FOR CHANGE”, addressing important issues of poverty, ignorance, disease and how these will be addressed by a CHADEMA/UKAWA government.

CHADEMA/UKAWA’s ultimate goal is to reshape a corruption distorted economy to a stable and inclusive one. A job-creating economy underlined by a quality education for all is an assurance to the public by CHADEMA/UKAWA. Ensuring accessibility to quality health services, clean water in both rural and urban areas, and free education from kindergarten to university level for all Tanzanians is expounded by the CHADEMA/UKAWA manifesto. This will be done by cutting unnecessary and luxurious government expenditures and ensuring proper tax collections.

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CHADEMA rally in Mwanza in Tanzania (photo by Rolf Aagaard-Svendsen, 2014)

Concerns over polling stations and voter registries

CHADEMA has made strong calls that the elections will be managed in a free, fair and open manner without rigging. CHADEMA has also called for transparency in the handling of the electronic votes and in the election result tallying software.

Another concern to many people is that with only few days to voting day, NEC has not released to the political parties the total number of pollingstations. The voters list was only obtained from NEC on 14 October 2015, 10 days before the polling day. A quick review of the voters list has shown many anomalies. Some of these include:

  1. Clear corruptions in voters’ photographs.
  2. Registrations of suspected non-Tanzanians still exist.
  3. Registration cards without people’s pictures, but buildings, vehicles and blank.
  4. Voters registered in warehouses and residences.

Tanzania has been one of the most peaceful countries in Africa, and we hope it will stay that way no matter the results of the elections.

For more information contact:

Rolf Aagaard-Svendsen who is focal point for the democracy project partnership between CHADEMA and the Conservative People’s Party at: rolf@aagaard-svendsen.dk

Launch of Coalition Reader

DIPD’s latest publication: “Coalition Building – Finding solutions together” will be launched 14th of December 2015 at the Danish Parliament, Christiansborg.

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The Danish parties have over the years developed a political practice of broad political compromise and coalition building that many political parties around the world are interested in. DIPD’s strategy focuses on ideas that can inspire – and in particular inspire a dialogue based political culture. In response to requests from our partners we are now launching a DIPD reader on political settlements and coalition building. It highlights the Danish lessons, while also looking at alliances and coalition building in other parts of the world that can inspire the Danish debate.

The launch will have the following format:

13.00-13.15 Welcome
DIPD Chairman bids welcome and shares the background story on how the publication came to be and how it will be used in democracy work.
13:15-14:15 Reflections by representatives of the Danish parties
  • Radikale Venstre – Martin Lidegaard
  • Alternativet – Uffe Elbæk
  • Venstre – Michael Aastrup Jensen
  • Socialistisk Folkeparti – Holger K. Nielsen
  • Socialdemokratiet – Yildiz Akdogan
  • Enhedslisten – Christian Juhl (TBC)
  • Det Konservative Folkeparti – Sofia Osmani (TBC)
  • Liberal Alliance (TBC)
Followed by a short debate moderated by DIPD’s Director, Bjørn Førde
14.15-14.30 Short Break
Coffee will be served.
14:30-15:15 SESSION 1: Coalition Building in Denmark
Presentation by Robert Klemmensen, Co-author of Reader
With comments from Helene H. Pedersen; University of Århus
Debate session moderated by the Director of DIPD, Bjørn Førde
15:15-16:00 SESSION 2: Coalition Building around the world
Presentation by Denis Kadima, Co-author of Reader
Debate session moderated by Hanne Lund Madsen, Senior Adviser, DIPD
16:00-16:45 Reception og Press conference
DIPD Chairman, the Readers’s danish and international authors and guests talk to the press.
Participants are invited to enjoy some refreshments with the possibility to continue discussing the importance of political coalitions in Danish, European and international politics in solving current challenges.

More information about the Programme for the Coalition Reader Launch