Editors’ Note: December 19, 2018

Déjà vu for Madagascar

Voters in Madagascar go to the polls today to pick the country’s next leader in a run-off between two ex-presidents, Marc Ravalomanana and Andry Rajoelina.

The contest is expected to be close, but the significance of the outcome is questionable.

Both have been a fixture of Madagascar’s politics for more than a decade, and were instrumental in plunging the country into crisis in 2009, when Ravalomanana was ousted in a de-facto coup and replaced by Rajoelina.

This earned Madagascar a suspension from the African Union, a 4% economic contraction, and an 82% dip in foreign direct investment. Years of tension between the two followed, only ending when both were barred from running in 2013 elections.

The resumption of their rivalry doesn’t bode well for the country’s battered economy.

Despite being home to various natural resources, producing 75% of the world’s vanilla, and Madagascar’s obvious tourism potential, the poverty rate is estimated to be around 70% of its 25m population.

Ravalomanana and Rajoelina can’t take all the credit for this. 

They are continuing a tradition that has seen the country mired in a cycle of political crises and autocratic rule pretty much since independence from France in 1960.

For voters it’s a regrettable case of déjà vu.

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