Power alternation experiences

Albert Caramés's picture
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In Autumn 2010, Catalonia experienced an alternation in Government after the regional election on the 28th of November. The results saw Catalan citizens make a decision to alter the power and install a new Cabinet. The transition was made, as agreed in all the statements, and was based on a model way in order to preserve the decision of the citizenship and the enhancement of the institutions.

Despite this, not all post-electoral transitions are being done that way. For example, the post-electoral crisis that Ivory Coast is going through shows the difficulties that some countries, especially in Africa, are experiencing with power alternation procedures. Even with a high rate of participation (near 80% in both rounds) or the conclusion from national and international observers that the process was clean and transparent, the legal aspects of the electoral certification have been hidden by a polarised political discourse between the two candidates: the president endorsed by the Ivorian Constitutional Court (Laurent Gbagbo) and the one with the results checked by the Independent Electoral Commission (Alassane Ouattara).

One of the main aspects that remains quite clear in the Ivorian case is the strong positioning of the international community. Despite possible interests that diplomats may have, they were endorsed by the certification role played by the United Nations (this gave a unique result). They also  gave a clear message to the world at the beginning of 2011,a year where the African continent would hold almost 20 electoral processes. The “electoral year” already started with the referendum on self-determination for South Sudan. This referendum seems to have the endorsement of the population and has created the first precedent on the change of the post-colonial borders.

To sum up, the enhancement of stronger institutions as opposed to stronger candidates (something that is difficult to implement on a presidential system, instead of a parliamentarian one) and the possibility to change the border configuration are the two topics related to the two elections mentioned, but applicable in all of kind of processes.


Albert Caramés

United Nations officer and PhD candidate

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