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Cape Verde: Presidential elections scheduled for October

The PAICV Party headquarters in São Filipe, Fogo, Cape Verde. Via Flickr Travel Aficionado, 2013 (CC BY-NC 2.0)

The next election in Cape Verde, which will determine the new President of the Republic, has been set for October 17. The date was set by Jorge Carlos Fonseca, current President of the country, who also stipulated an eventual second round of votes on October 31st.

The presidential decree setting the dates for the run-off was published on July 27 and went into effect immediately, though the schedule has been in discussion since January 2021. Municipal elections took place in October 2020, and the legislative ones were in April 2021.

According to the newspaper A Nação, Arlinda Chantre, the General Director of support for the electoral process of the General Directorate of Public Administration (DGAP), guaranteed that their organization would facilitate the logistics for future elections:

[…] Como é a segunda eleição do ano, parte da logística foi devidamente preparada com as eleições legislativas, o que nos garante que nós já temos todos os materiais disponíveis e estamos exatamente no processo de preparação dos materiais que devem ser enviados às mesas das assembleias de voto.

[…] As it is the second election of the year, part of the logistics was properly prepared with the legislative elections, which assures us that we already have all the materials available and that we are in the process of preparing the materials that should be sent to polling station tables.

Cape Verde's Constitution designates that the President of the Republic is elected by universal vote of registered voters in-country and abroad. Only people with solely Cape Verdean citizenship, over 35 years of age, and with permanent residence in the territory for at least three years before election day may apply for the position.

Electoral scenario and presidential candidate profiles

During the last presidential elections, held on October 2, 2016, constitutionalist Jorge Carlos Fonseca of the Movement for Democracy Party (MPD) was reelected with 74 percent of the votes. At the end of his second term, the President can no longer be reelected according to the country's term limit regulations.

The largest political parties in Cape Verde, the African Party for the Independence of Cape Verde (PAICV) and the Movement for Democracy (MPD), are have nominated José Maria Neves and Carlos Veiga, respectively. These parties have significant historical and political strength in Cape Verde and have largely dominated the country's political scene for nearly three decades.

José Maria Neves is a former Cape Verdean prime minister who was elected three times between 2001 to 2016. He has also held several political positions, such as president of his party and national deputy.

The PAICV, which once fought for Cape Verde's independence against the Portuguese Empire, says it recognizes their candidate's “political path” and points to him as a “convinced democrat” and “promoter of the values ​​of freedom and tolerance, social justice, and equality opportunities for all.”

José Maria Neves says that, if elected, he wants to heal the country's polarization, bridge bipartisanship within the Public Administration, and promote Cape Verde's recovery after the economic, social, and health crisis caused by the Coronavirus pandemic.

Carlos Veiga, the candidate for the MPD Party, is also a former prime minister (1991 to 2000) and former president of the MPD, which he helped establish in 1990. The politician, who until 2020 was ambassador to the United States of America, promised to be “a President of the Republic above the parties” and “be a non-partisan candidate.”

Veiga, a lawyer, was the first head of Government chosen in a free and multi-party electoral election in the country, after struggling for more than fifteen years under the single-party regime of the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (now known as PAICV). The candidate is running for a third presidential term, having run previously in 2001 and 2006.

As a demonstration of support for Neves after his campaign announcement, supporters began promoting his slogan “Always with Cape Verde in your heart, Love for First.”

Ernestina Pina posted on Facebook saying:

Amar Cabo Verde para um futuro melhor. Viva Cabo Verde!

Loving Cape Verde for a better future. Long live Cape Verde!

Tito Monteiro agreed:

Um homem certo para um lugar certo. Doutor José Maria Neves.

A right man for a right place. Doctor José Maria Neves.

Similarly, Veiga's supporters flocked to support him after his campaign advertisements. His advertisements read, “Kalu — Carlos Veiga President.”

One supporter, José Manuel Moreno, says:

Estamos juntos, juntos somos mais fortes. Dr. Carlos Veiga, somos invencíveis.

We are together, together we are stronger. Dr. Carlos Veiga, we are invincible.

While another user, João Borrego, comments:

Dr. Carlos Veiga, alegria contagiante. Obrigado. Viva o futuro Presidente de Cabo Verde.

Dr. Carlos Veiga, contagious joy. Thanks. Long live the future President of Cape Verde.

In the 2020 municipal elections, the MPD won in 14 of the 22 municipalities, compared to the PAICV, which won the majority in eight municipalities. In 2021, during the April legislative elections, the MPD secured its dominance by occupying at least 7 more seats than the PAICV (winning 36 of the 72 available). Party and national polling will begin in September.

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