My predictions – or more accurately: estimated probabilities – for the second round:
- 65% Ouattara wins
- 35% Gbagbo wins
In the previous post I assumed Gbagbo would get at least 40% of Bedie’s first round votes in most of the country, and even with that assumption the numbers showed Ouattara would win. I am starting to think that reaching 40% might be difficult for Gbagbo with the support PDCI and traditional Baoule chiefs have been showing for Ouattara in the last few days.
If Gbagbo wins:
- 30% There will be accusations of election fraud by the RHDP and major violence will break out, possibly with the north not accepting Gbagbo’s authority
- 70% There will be accusations of election fraud by the RHDP, but only minor violence will occur. Ouattara accepts defeat.
I think Ouattara will accept defeat and congratulate Gbagbo if he believes the elections were mostly fair. Ouattara’s supporters on the other hand are likely to be more hot-headed. And I think RHDP leaders including Ouattara will talk about fraud as long as there are at least some incidents, which there will be.
If Ouattara wins:
- 20% Gbagbo leaves power peacefully and no major violence occurs
- 80% Gbagbo decides to try to stay in power, a scenario that very likely leads to violence
The thing is, Gbagbo is no Abdou Diouf* and we are not going to see Gbagbo heading the Francophonie anytime soon, or working for the Carter Center like Ghana’s former president John Kufour. There are several well reported instances where the Gbagbo-led government seem to have been more or less directly involved in human rights abuses. This Human Rights Watch report from 2002 is one example. These things makes it difficult to become an internationally respected ex-president.
A model that has worked in the past to predict Gbagbo’s actions is that at a decision point, he will choose the course of action most likely to allow him to stay in power regardless of other consequences.
As to why Gbagbo acts this way, I think it’s partly that he has fallen for the temptations of power as described by Vaclav Havel, and partly because he really believes he is fighting the good fight. That a win for Ouattara would mean his country being taken over by some sort of foreign neocolonial interests, and that it is justified to use almost any mean to prevent that outcome.
There is something treacherous, delusive, and ambiguous in the temptation of power. On the one hand, political power gives you the wonderful opportunity to confirm, day in and day out, that you really exist, that you have your own undeniable identity, that with every word and deed you a leaving a highly visible mark on the world around you. Yet within that same political power and in everything that logically belongs to it lies a terrible danger: that, while pretending to confirm our existence and our identity, political power will in fact rob us of them.
Videos from speeches by pro-democracy opposition leader Laurent Gbagbo in the old days:
*Abdou Diouf was the Senegalese president who ignored hardliners in his party and accepted defeat in Senegal’s presidential elections in year 2000. He later became Secretary-General for the Francophonie – an organisation for cooperation between French-speaking countries.