Painting by Cheri Samba

Lokuta eyaka na ascenseur, kasi vérité eyei na escalier mpe ekomi. Lies come up in the elevator; the truth takes the stairs but gets here eventually. - Koffi Olomide

Ésthetique eboma vélo. Aesthetics will kill a bicycle. - Felix Wazekwa

Sunday, February 5, 2012

What will the new parliament look like?

On Thursday, the election commission released a list of 484 out of 500 parliamentarians in the new national assembly. While this list is going to be fiercely contested, and while there is no doubt that there was widespread fraud, it is still useful to provide a provisional analysis of these results.

Many of the points I make here have already been made in the insightful analyses by Thierry Vircoulon on the excellent Afrikarabia, and by Jean-Claude Willame of the University of Louvain (here, from p. 13). Also see a summary of reaction in the international and Congolese press, as well as a summary of the results, provied by Dialogue magazine here.

These preliminary results show that Kabila's majorité présidentielle coalition has garnered 260 seats - a thin majority - while the opposition has 134. Here's the list of the main parties, as compared with how they fared in 2006 (courtesy of Dialogue):

  1. The first conclusion, which many have pointed out, is that there has been a fragmentation of both the majorité and the opposition. The PPRD party, which is most closely identified with President Kabila, saw their share of the lower House diminish by almost half, and Antoine Gizenga's PALU party also had its wings tightly clipped. Similarly, the opposition MLC party lost almost two thirds of its seats. But it's not so straightforward: there are also far fewer independent candidates - 17 instead of 63 - and only slightly fewer total political parties. What is really different is the much more even distribution of seats - the PPRD has lost its total dominance and now has to contend with the MSR, PPPD, PALU and ARC. What does this mean? To get anything passed - first and foremost, a new government and prime minister - will take a lot of bargaining and probably bribery. Nothing new here, but this is the opposite of what President Kabila has been trying to bring about, first with his failed attempt to revise the electoral law, then with his Charter of the Majorité Présidentielle of April 2011. 
  2. The opposition only has 26% of seats in the lower house, so they fared worse than in the official presidential score (of course, all of these results are contested). The big question is what the UDPS will decide to do - if they boycott parliament, as Tshisekedi has vowed to do, we can expect little from the remaining opposition groups, none of which has more than 5% of seats. The largest opposition group, the MLC, is suffering from defections and the absence of their leader, Jean-Pierre Bemba. However, even if the UDPS choose the institutional path, at most they will be able to nominate people to some of the parliamentary commissions. While Kabila will have a hard time controlling a fractious legislature, we can still not expect much oversight and push-back from these MPs.
  3. As we can see, the majority only have 260 confirmed seats, which would not be enough to allow them to revise the constitution without a referendum (they need 300 votes to do this). Of course, anything is possible, and the above calculations suggest that 106 MPs have not decided whether they would be in Kabila's camp or not. Without changing the constitution, Kabila will not be able to run for a third term in 2016.
  4. The new kid on the block is the PPPD, a party that emerged out of nowhere just months before the elections and is now the third strongest. Little is known about the party, other than it is led by a respected professor - and former dean of the faculty of humanities and social sciences - at the University of Kinshasa, Ngoma Binda. The other prominent member of the party is Leonard She Okitundu, a former foreign minister (neither was elected MP). I would think that they are in a decent position for the prime ministerial race, as the job will probably go to a westerner, and MSR's Pierre Lumbi is from the East. Their main rivals will probably be the PPRD's Evariste Boshab (although his influence is waning along with their poor results) and ARC's Olivier Kamitatu.
  5. It's difficult to say what criteria mattered most to voters during these legislative elections - in Bukavu, for example, the most popular candidate ran for the opposition UNC and was able to channel frustrations with Kabila; however, the second-most popular candidate was a Kabila stalwart, who command a strong following among his own Rega ethnicity, which couldn't bring itself to vote for a Shi candidate from the UNC. In Walungu (South Kivu), the former governor of the province Norbert Kantintima cruised to a comfortable victory even though he was very unpopular a governor for the RCD rebels. In short: to a certain degree, the elections were a plebiscite of the incumbent, but money, ethnicity and personality also mattered a lot. 
So what does this all mean? We will have to wait to see whether anything will come of the many election disputes that are being submitted to the Supreme Court, and whether donor pressure will have an impact. If the results are upheld, however, we can expect five years of unruly dominance of Kabila's allies over parliament and the executive.


Anonymous said...

Thanks, Jason. The statement "the elections were a plebiscite of the incumbent" is only partly true. In many voting districts, incumbents did not fare well. Take the case of Beni (territoire) where, out of the 8 incumbents, only one was re-elected (Jerome Kamathe), and in Beni-Ville, both incumbents lost to newcomers.

It looks to me like, as in 2006, the electorate voted for the candidates they trust or can identify with the most. Reputation was much more important than party affiliation or ethnicity. That can explain largely the success of a candidate like Konde Vila Kikanda, a Mukongo member of ARC, in Goma. He is beloved there as a former governor, and ARC rightly saw a winning opportunity in bringing him back.

A count of how many of the elected MPs are incumbents can give a good sense of how incumbents actually fared nationally.


Jason Stearns said...

@ Anon - By incumbent I meant Kabila, suggesting that many voters picked parties based on whether they were pro- and anti-Kabila. Which is why the parliamentary percentage of the opposition tracked the presidential distribution of the vote pretty closely in the provinces. But many others, as you suggest, voted based on personality, ethnicity or other local considerations.

Rich said...

Jason -

Thanks, I can see that the situation is still a little unclear with 106 MPs to decide if they will be going in bed with the MP or the opposition... up to last week there were almost 20 appeals already lodged at the Supreme Court with probable more to be lodged before the deadline… udps final position if they are going to Lingwala or carry on staying outside the institutional matrix … MP infighting…

That said I’ve just heard the next National Assembly is planned to meet for the first time on the 16th February 2012 (pure coincidence or political manoeuvre)!!! The General Secretary (a civil servant, Mr Patrick Madjibule) to that institution has received the provisional list of elected MPs as published by the CENI. The first session will have a provisional bureau chaired by the oldest MP in age (Mr Mwando Nsimba, 75 Years old, and the current Minister of Defense) and will be assisted by a secretary who will be the youngest of all the MPs (Patrick Muyaya, 29 Years old who run under the PALU list and was elected for the electoral circumscription of Funa in Kinshasa). The provisional office will be tasked to organise the election of the definitive committee that must start the next national assembly session in Mars 2012 by validating mandates of all MPs (hoping that the CSJ will, by then, have dealt with the appeals and published the validated/final list of elected MPS).

I think if udps does not review its current trajectory of rejecting anything and anyone they will head straight into the wall. To me, udps is the biggest loser of these elections since in 2006, even MLC managed to get more MPs than udps has done in its first participation to the election… staying outside the institutional framework will further hurt udps’ standing as a truly national party and may end up becoming a regional party. There are provinces (Maniema, Nord Kivu, Sud Kivu or Katanga) where udps did a very bad score and this is not very promising for a party known as the first child of the Congolese opposition.

I must remind people that these results are indeed CONTESTED but if there is nothing else to replace them with, I guess the world will have no other choice but to take them as the only reality/fact that is out there…


Anand said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anand said...

Interesting results. Indeed there will be a new round of contesting, but I think Jason's statement, "If the results are upheld, however, we can expect five years of unruly dominance of Kabila's allies over parliament and the executive," is the most likely scenario. I don't want to jump the gun, but based on the fact that the focus has now shifted to the parliamentary elections, means that the results of the presidential elections are solidifying. If the mix of imperfect mechanisms/systems and lack of international action remains consistent, I'm not very optimistic about the parliamentary results being addressed in any meaningful way. I understand the need to go through the process though. Using the processes, however imperfect, is important in slowly establishing democratic systems.

A lot of my lack of optimism rests in the fact that I don't think U.S. players (Yamamoto, Carson, Clinton, Enwistle) are particularly good advocates for Congo. It seems that the circle of diplomats under Clinton suffers from group-think and boss-pleasing approaches. The hearing in congress last week was uneventful, and I feel that the legitimate questions of some representatives were not answered well. In other words, American congress-people are not getting a clear picture of what is happening and what needs to happen regarding the DRC from the ambassador's who are supposed to fulfill this function. This "gap in reality" seems to be a major problem in getting donor nations (at least the U.S.) to take meaningful action. I hope that this can somehow be addressed.

doruma37 said...

This electoral process has given birth to an EVIL-ELECTED PRESIDENT with a “ABSOLUTE” EVIL-ELECTED MAJORITY, RATHER APPOINTED to the National Assembly and thoroughly CORRUPTED. As a result, DRC will know the same governance IMMOBILITY, same as under GIZENGA-MUZITO, a government committed to the same allegiance to the TRUE and ENHANCED PARALLEL Government from the Office of the EVIL-ELECTED PRESIDENT, which run the country unaccountably in the shadow, the same continual failures of EXECUTION of any economic and social program, the same DELAY in genuine economic development and accordingly the ACCENTUATED pauperization and the nameless GALLEY of the Congolese people for the next 5 years

I do not see how the implementation of the government program would improve above the 2006-2011 period with the MULTIPLICATION of food PARTIES in the majority MP to more than 80, each with at least one or two deputies elected-appointed, yet all ACQUIRED shamelessly to the national CORRUPTION FEEDER. I do not see how the EVIL-ELECTED PRESIDENT will master the GREED of 80 food PARTIES when he failed to master the gluttony of about 40 parties from 2006 through 2011.Hence the IMMOBILITY and the same dire consequences for DRC.

It seems that ALL was executed in 2011 (one round presidential election, botched presidential elections, results published at cruising speed, very fast investiture, complete disregard of botched legislative elections) to REINFORCE the PARALLEL Government in the Presidency while the laws to be passed in great fanfare and with great eloquence by the National Assembly will go UNHEEDED as during the previous legislature, thanks to various allowances and other privileges accorded by the Presidency to the new “ABSOLUTE” EVIL-ELECTED MAJORITY MP.

2011 was then A WASTE OF TIME.


Anonymous said...

Com on said...

I am always puzzled to see someone pretending to analyze fake figures. Those figures are totally fake. They only reflect decisions made by Kabila's circle, decisions that will only bring more instability in the country. Come on Jason, you're not that stupid !

CarinaE said...


Hello, my name is Carina. I am a senior in high school in Colorado. I am doing a project that involves getting in touch with someone from The Congo or living there/have lived there, etc. If you can get back to me before Wed Feb 8th that would work out perfectly and we can just exchange a few e-mails, for the project. If not, No worries and I wish you luck!



Anonymous said...

com on,
I totally agry with you!
I think that these elections are only covering the fact that democracy is not exsisting in this country.

Anonymous said...

sorry, I mean "I agree with you" and "democracy is not excisting".

Anonymous said...

Anon Feb 6, 12:34 pm; Good point. I don't understand the need to go through all this trouble either!Unless one is determined to give a semblance of credibility to this fiasco, otherwise this exercise is deceitful and intellectually dishonest. I don't know who's putting him up to this but I just can't get over the fact that Kabila's fraudulent election is now qualified as a plebiscite??? I don't even know whether to laugh or cry. Talk about an oxymoron! Poor Congo...

Unknown said...

Support it!

loui vuitton outlet

louis vuitton handbags

Louis Vuitton Scarves

Post a Comment