It’s election time in the Ivory Coast. While it’s unpredictable, I have nevertheless tried to put probabilities on the possible outcomes.
Here we go:
50%: Gbagbo wins outright in the first round
In this case I estimate that Gbagbo gets an honest result of 30% – 45% plus 10% – 20% by fraud. As mentioned in the More Politics post I don’t think Gbagbo has the votes to win outright.
If Gbagbo doesn’t win in the first round it will be clear that a majority didn’t vote for him, making things difficult for him in the second round. Gbagbo has strong incentives to win in the first round, and I’m not sure if a hundred or so electoral observers can prevent vote rigging.
And then there is always the method of just announcing the result you want regardless of the outcome of the votes, and them, ahem “take care” of anyone mentioning the real result. With an electoral commission announcing the results, and the UN in place, that might be tricky to pull off, but I wouldn’t rule out anything.
With Gbagbo winning in the first round, there will undoubtedly be protests, and very likely violence. The question is just how bad it will be. Depending on how big and obvious the election rigging was, there might also be a diplomatic backlash against Gbagbo. My take is that Gbagbo has enough of a grip on armed forces and militas to not be unseated from power.
48%: Gbagbo heads to a second run run-off with either Ouattara or Bedie
This result would mean that fraud didn’t impact the election result very much. In free and fair elections in democracies, it is very unusual that a candidate wins an outright majority in a first run of presidential elections with multiple candidates. The big unknown – as I see it – is how much vote rigging (if any) in favour of Gbagbo there will be.
I think it is more likely that Ouattara goes in run-off than Bedie. In this case there is a possibility that Gbagbo gains the support of Bedie by promising seats in government to PDCI, but the main scenario is still that Bedie and Ouattara do not break their alliance. And then we are back in the scenario above, but with Gbagbo in a somewhat weaker position as it requires more obvious vote rigging to win if Ouattara and Bedie are united, and together got more than 50% in the first round.
Also, if you had one relatively fair round of elections, it becomes more more difficult to start rigging the second one. A fair first round could be due to FPI trying, but failing to rig it in sufficient numbers, or not trying at all. In both cases there is a good chance of the second round being fair as well.
If Gbagbo got say 49.8% in the first round, then I guess he is still in a strong position for the second round, but I think that would mean that the first round wasn’t entirely fair.
2%: Ouattara and Bedie face each other in the second round
Even without any pro-Gbagbo vote rigging, I think Gbagbo has enough support to come in among the first two candidates in the first round. And neither Ouattara nor Bedie have sufficient control of the state apparatus to do any major vote rigging. This scenario is in other words very unlikely.