Seychelles Presidential Election: October 22-24, 2020 (tentative)


A voter in Seychelles 2015 elections. Photo credit: Seychelles News Agency/Rassin Vannier (CC-BY)

KEY FACTS
Freedom House Rating

Partly Free
Government Type
Presidential Republic
Population
95,981
UPCOMING ELECTIONS
Presidential Election
October 22-24, 2020 (tentative)
Parliamentary Elections
September or October 2021 (due)
PAST ELECTIONS
Parliamentary Elections
September 8-10, 2016
Presidential Election
December 3-5, 2015 (second round December 16-18, 2015)

Seychelles is due to hold a presidential election in October 2020. The country’s election commission has announced tentative dates of October 22-24, 2020 (polling will take place over several days), but these could change. Incumbent Danny Faure will face off against opposition leader Wavel Ramkalawan.

Political Context

The socialist Seychelles People’s Progressive Front (SPPF), which came to power in a coup one year after independence from Britain, ruled the country as a one-party state from 1977 to 1993. The party (which changed its name to Parti Lepep in 2009 and United Seychelles in 2018) continued to play a dominant role even following the establishment of multiparty elections. However, in the historic 2016 parliamentary elections, the opposition coalition Linyon Demokratik (LDS) won a majority in parliament – the first time that the SPPF/Parti Lepep did not win a majority. LDS’s 2016 campaign focused more on democracy rather than a specific policy platform.

Following his party’s defeat in the 2016 legislative elections, then-president James Michel resigned, and vice president Danny Faure became president. Faure is seeking another term this year, and will be challenged by opposition candidate Wavel Ramkalawan of the LDS. While other candidates are also running, Faure and Ramkalawan are the frontrunners.

Ramkalawan, a former Anglican priest, has run in – and lost – the last six presidential elections. He lost by a hair in 2015, with 49.85 percent of the vote to Michel’s 50.15 percent. That is to say, he lost by a total of 193 votes. The opposition claimed that there had been irregularities. The election this year will therefore be a fiercely-contested race.

The 2016 elections led to an opening up of the political space. For example, the country subsequently established a truth and reconciliation commission to examine human rights violations under France-Albert René, who seized power in the 1977 coup and remained president until 2004. René died in 2019.

Legislative elections are due in September or October 2021.

Geopolitical Context

Seychelles’ strategic location in the Indian Ocean has led to Sino-Indian competition for influence. The country plays an important role in Indian Ocean security, specifically in prosecuting transnational piracy and narcotics trafficking.

Curated News and Analysis

AFP (May 27, 2019): Seychelles president to seek re-election in 2020

Ashton Robinson, Lowy Institute’s The Interpreter (June 25, 2019): Seychelles: life after the boss

World Politics Review (October 6, 2016): After Election Shake-Up, the Seychelles Enters Uncharted Political Waters

Updated June 25, 2020

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