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Enabling Environments for Civic Movements and the Dynamics of Democratic Transition - Madagascar

Publisher Freedom House
Publication Date 10 July 2008
Cite as Freedom House, Enabling Environments for Civic Movements and the Dynamics of Democratic Transition - Madagascar, 10 July 2008, available at: [accessed 28 May 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Period of democratic transition: 1992–1993
Pro-democracy civic movement: present

In 1975, Lieutenant Commander Didier Ratsiraka was named head of state after a coup. Over the next 10 years, Ratsiraka nationalized the economy and implemented single-party rule.

A year after his reelection in 1989, Ratsiraka began moving the country toward competitive democracy by formally legalizing political parties, opening space for political and social opposition. In August 1990, a meeting of new opposition parties, labor unions, and nongovernmental organizations called for the immediate dissolution of the existing government and the formation of a transitional government. Opposition politicians and hundreds of thousands of their supporters rallied daily in the streets of the Malagasy capital for over three months, demanding the government hold a sovereign national conference representative of civil society to create a new constitution and prepare for democracy. Civil servants also went on strike to increase pressure on Ratsiraka. By July 1991, the prime minister and his cabinet had resigned, but Ratsiraka remained obstinate; he offered to reinitiate talks with the opposition but refused to allow the national conference to take place. In response, nearly half a million people marched on the presidential palace; the march turned violent when security forces fired on the crowd, killing 100 and injuring 300. Following this violence, and mindful of the military's refusal to come to his aid, Ratsiraka finally agreed to a national conference, a constitutional referendum, and new elections. The national conference was held in February 1992, and voters approved a new constitution in August. Later in the year, clashes between the opposition and Ratsiraka supporters threatened to derail the transition. But by February 1993, opposition leader Albert Zafy defeated Ratsiraka in the second round of free and fair elections, receiving nearly 67 percent of the vote.

Except for a period of violence and political crisis following the contentious 2001 presidential election (with both lead candidates claiming victory), the democratic system has functioned unhindered since 1993.

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