Seychelles Presidential and Legislative Elections: October 22-24, 2020

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

Freedom House Rating

Partly Free
Government Type
Presidential Republic
Presidential and Legislative Elections
October 2025 (due)
Presidential and Legislative Elections
October 22-24, 2020

Seychelles held presidential and legislative elections October 22-24, 2020. After six attempts, former opposition leader Wavel Ramkalawan won the presidency – the first time an opposition candidate has won in 44 years.

Political Context

Although Seychelles is seeing an opening up of the political space, these elections are taking place in the context of an economy devastated by COVID-19.

For background: Until 2016, despite having multi-party elections, Seychelles had one dominant party. 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 SPPF/Parti Lepep’s defeat in the 2016 legislative elections, then-president James Michel resigned, and vice president Danny Faure subsequently became president. The 2016 elections in Seychelles 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.

The 2020 Elections in Seychelles: Historic Opposition Win

Faure is sought another term in 2020, but lost to his main challenger will be Wavel Ramkalawan of the LDS, becoming the first opposition candidate to win in 44 years. Ramkalawan, a former Anglican priest, ran in – and lost – the six prior presidential elections. The results in 2015 were razor-thin – Faure won by a total of 193 votes. However, this year, Ramkalawan won decisively, with 54.9 percent of the vote to Faure’s 43.5 percent. Former tourism minister Alain Saint-Ange also ran.

In addition, the opposition also won the legislative elections, building on its prior majority by winning two-thirds of the seats. Those elections had initially been due in 2021, but took place early in order to coincide with the presidential election.

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 (October 25, 2020): Seychelles election marks first opposition victory in 44 years

Victoria Graham and Suzanne Graham, The Conversation (October 21, 2020): Seychelles is likely to maintain its record of free and fair elections in upcoming polls

AFP (September 16, 2020): Seychelles president faces two challengers in October election

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

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Updated October 25, 2020

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