Cabo Verde Parliamentary Elections: April 18, 2021 and Presidential Election: October 17, 2021

The coastline near Praia, capital of Cabo Verde. Photo credit: Wikimedia/Cayambe (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Freedom House Rating

Government Type
Parliamentary Republic
Local Elections
October 2025 (due)
Parliamentary Elections
April 2026 (due)
Presidential Election
October 2026 (due)
Parliamentary Elections
April 18, 2021
Presidential Election
October 17, 2021
Local Elections
October 25, 2020

Cabo Verde held parliamentary elections on April 18, 2021 and a presidential election on October 17, 2021. These follow local elections, which took place on October 25, 2020. The next elections are due in 2025 and 2026.

Political Context

Cabo Verde is a stable democracy with regular elections and peaceful transfers of power. The two biggest parties are the governing Movement for Democracy (MpD) and the main opposition African Party of Independence of Cabo Verde (PAICV). In addition, the center-right Democratic and Independent Cabo Verdean Union (UCID) has also held a few seats in the National Assembly since 2006.

The socialist PAICV ran the country as a one-party state until 1990, when it allowed other parties to form and compete. Subsequently, the Christian Democratic MpD won the first multi-party elections in 1992, and is currently the governing party, having won 40 out of 72 seats in the 2016 elections, after being in opposition since 2006. MpD’s Jorge Carlos Fonseca won re-election in the 2016 presidential election.

Following a military coup in Guinea-Bissau in 1981, PAICV split from the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cabo Verde (PAIGC), a political party-turned-militia that fought for independence from Portugal. Cabo Verde and Guinea-Bissau activists had campaigned together for independence from Portugal, but the coup was deeply resented in Cabo Verde, so the two countries parted ways in 1981, and PAIGC formed a Marxist one-party state in Guinea-Bissau.

Importantly, both PAICV and MpD have won presidential and parliamentary elections since the establishment of democracy.

The 2020/2021 Elections in Cabo Verde

Cabo Verde’s 2020/2021 election cycle kicked off with local elections on October 25, 2020. PAICV made gains, notably in the capital, Praia. However, MdP maintained control of most of the country’s municipalities.

In the April 2021 parliamentary elections, Prime Minister Ulisses Correia e Silva from MdP won re-election. His main challenger, Janira Hopffer Almada from PAICV, would have become the country’s first female prime minister, but MdP ended up winning. Conversely, PAICV’s José Maria Neves defeated MdP’s Carlos Veiga in the presidential election. The president plays more of a ceremonial role in Cabo Verde’s parliamentary system.

Geopolitical Context

Cabo Verde, an archipelago about 300 miles off the cost of Africa, sits at a crucial geopolitical position in the Atlantic Ocean – both Christopher Columbus and Vasco de Gama stopped at the islands en route to parts unknown. Since the mid 1990s, China has invested significant sums of money, and built key infrastructure. PAICV advocates strong links with Beijing and has a party-to-party relationship with the Chinese Communist Party. However, the country also maintains close ties to Europe, the United States, and NATO, which has conducted exercises there – in fact, Cabo Verde was the site of the first-ever NATO exercise in Africa in 2006. Prime Minister Ulysses Correia e Silva has indicated that he would like the country to integrate more closely with NATO.

Curated News and Analysis

Africanews with AFP (November 9, 2021): Jose Maria Neves sworn in as new Cape Verde president

AFP (October 18, 2021): New Cape Verde president vows to work with rival prime minister

Julio Rodrigues, Reuters (October 17, 2021): Opposition candidate Neves nears victory in Cape Verde presidential election

AFP (April 28, 2021): Full election results give Cape Verde ruling party majority

Reuters (April 19, 2021): Cape Verde’s ruling party maintains majority in parliamentary elections

Al Jazeera (April 17, 2021 – video): Cape Verde election: Economy and drought dominate campaign

Eugénio Teixeira, VOA (March 15, 2021 – in Portuguese): Cape Verde legislatures: PAICV bets on new names; MPD mixes veterans and novices

Odair Santos, RFI (September 17, 2020): Cape Verde / Covid-19: everything ready for the 25 October local elections

A Naçäo (January 2, 2020 – in Portuguese): 2020, year of the municipal elections: Who leaves and who stays? Local elections, which are expected to be called for the last quarter of this year, are expected to dominate the spotlight in 2020.

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Updated January 15, 2022

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