Here are my thoughts about the second round election. I’ll start with points favouring Ouattara, and then I’ll take what’s favouring Gbagbo in the next post.
- The sincerity of the support from Bedie
I don’t think the Bedie – Ouattara alliance is one of only convenience. Looking back several years, representatives of PDCI and RDR as well as pro-Bedie and pro-Ouattara newspapers have made very similar arguments and expressed very similar views of the events of the last 10 years. In the debates on Africa24 (still available online) ahead of the first round it often felt like RDR and PDCI representatives spoke with one voice.
- The anti-incumbent second round effect
I think a not insignificant amount of Gbagbo votes in the first round were from ethnic groups not naturally close to Gbagbo who voted Gbagbo only because of money and gifts given to them and a desire to be on the winning side. It’s not certain they will vote for Gbagbo again in the second round. The incumbent advantage effect discussed in the Gbagbo: votes and funny faces post can weaken in a second round round of presidential elections. That’s how the Senegalese socialist party ended their 40 year streak in power when their candidate Abdou Diouf lost the second round presidential election in year 2000 to Abdoulaye Wade.
Diouf had obtained 41.3% in the first round vs Wade’s 30.1%, and Diouf had the support of Djibo Ka who got 7.1% in the first round. Nevertheless Wade won with 58.5% of the votes in the second round, with Diouf getting only 41,5%. Beyond the Mouride religious organisation supporting Wade, I think there were quite a few villages taking money from Diouf, but seeing where the tide was going and voting Wade.
In the Ivory Coast in the Bafing region for example, the small Mahouka ethnic group seem to have voted Gbagbo to a large extent, but in the second round where a vote for Gbagbo is just as much a vote against Ouattara they may switch.
- The Baoule Center
Mathematically, it looks like who wins the Baoule populated center including the Lacs and N’zi Comoe regions, wins the elections. Here, it already looks like voters took money from Gbagbo but voted Bedie.
A few days ago a representative of Gbagbo’s party LMP called Baoule voters “ingrat” or ungrateful prompting the Gbagbo campaign to quickly make sure Gbagbo and Pascal Affi Nguessan are the only ones allowed to speak to national and international media for LMP going forward.
My take on this is that LMP probably still think Baoule voters in the center are ungrateful, but they badly need their votes and can’t say anything negative about them. With Bedie campaigning together with Ouattara in the center, Gbagbo seems to be in trouble here.
- Albert Mabri Toikeusse
The fourth man in the first round Albert Mabri Toikeusse got 2.6% . Mabri Toikeusse votes were concentrated in the 18 Montagnes region where he got 86,951 votes, far ahead of Ouattara and Bedie. Mabri Toikeusse is a part of the RHDP alliance and his voters are – I believe – pretty solidly against Gbagbo, and can be counted in for Ouattara with more certainty than Bedie’s votes. With these votes Gbagbo’s first round advantage is down from 6 percentage points to a very shaky 3.5 percentage points.
- Friction and corruption within FPI/LMP
The FPI of today isn’t the same FPI as in 1990. Whereas the latter was a small idealistic pro-democracy opposition party, I believe today’s FPI includes many high-level people that are active mainly because of money and power, and may jump ship if things aren’t looking up. Now, this issue affects RDR and PDCI as well, but these parties have gone through tough times, and those who are active today are more used to setbacks.
Also, and this is speculative third hand information, but I have heard that campaigners for Gbagbo have put money in their own pockets, instead of using it to campaign and, ahem, buy votes. Again, this probably happens in all parties to some extent, but I’d bet it happens a bit more in FPI. To win the second round Gbagbo really have to keep this type of problems under control.
- Invalid votes
There were more invalid votes in the pro-Ouattara north than elsewhere. With only two candidates on the ballot and an awareness of this problem, there should be fewer invalid votes in the second round which should favour Ouattara.
- CEI, UN and electoral observers
The Ivorian Independent Election Commission (CEI), the UN and the international electoral observers seem to have done a pretty good job preventing irregularities in the first round. There were some problems, but there were on a small scale and did according to the UN not impact the total election result in a significant way. This is good for Ouattara as any irregularities are likely to be in favour of Gbagbo as he unlike Ouattara (except in the north) has sufficient control of the state apparatus to be able to attempt vote rigging.
- The Paris votes
If the CEI gets its act together for the second round the Paris vote won’t have to be cancelled like in the first round. I think that would favour Ouattara as he obtained a good result among the Ivorian diaspora.