Tag Archives: party leadership

Mozambique – President Nyusi elected leader of ruling party FRELIMO

Yesterday, on the final day of the FRELIMO party congress, former President Armando Guebuza stepped down as leader of ruling party FRELIMO. President Filipe Nyusi was elected as his successor. Guebuza’s resignation is in line with the Party’s practice that the same person should hold the post of president of the state and of the party. Yet, intra-party conflicts may have speeded up Guebuza’s early resignation.

Ever since the first democratic elections in 1994, the FRELIMO party has managed to secure a parliamentary majority and to elect a president.

Traditionally, the president of the state and the president of FRELIMO have always been the same person. The only time that both posts were not unified in the same person was after Guebuza won the 2004 presidential election and Joaquim Chissano was still president of FRELIMO. Few months later Chissano ended any possible intra-party conflict by resigning as leader of FRELIMO in March 2005. The FRELIMO Political Commission then elected Guebuza to lead the party, thus uniting once again the post of president of the state and of the party in the same person.

When Guebuza was re-elected party leader in 2012 there was speculation that this would lead to two centres of power in the ruling party. In theory, the term of office of the President of FRELIMO is from one Congress to the next (5-6 years). So after Nyusi was sworn in as the new President of Mozambique on 15 January 2015, the head of FRELIMO was no longer the head of state.

This situation, a form of intra-party cohabitation, generated intra-party conflict, in particular, regarding the President’s Nyusi’s stance on how to deal with threats coming from Mozambique’s main opposition party RENAMO.

‘Autonomy Bill’

RENAMO never accepted the 2014 general election results. In protest against what they considered fraudulent election results, RENAMO boycotted parliament and called for autonomy in six provinces[1] where it claims it won a majority of votes and where, perhaps not coincidentally, the majority of the nation’s mineral resources are located.

In an effort to ease inter-party tensions the newly-elected President Nyusi invited opposition leader Afonso Dhlakama to submit a bill on the creation of autonomous provinces to parliament, while making no commitment that such a bill would be approved by the FRELIMO majority in parliament. Yet, the Nyusi-Dhlakama agreement was not well-received by the President’s own party. According to members of FRELIMO’s ruling Political Commission, the proposal for regional autonomy would destroy national unity and is unacceptable. Mozambique’s newspaper Savana interpreted this as a split in FRELIMO, with Guebuza as head of the party trying to undermine President Nyusi’s negotiations with Dhlakama.

Guebuza’s resignation may thus end intra-party conflicts. In addition, his early resignation abolishes the 5-6 year term limits set for FRELIMO presidents since his mandate would only end in 2017.

Meanwhile, RENAMO has submitted the ‘Autonomy Bill’ which will be discussed in the forthcoming parliamentary sitting, due to begin on 31 March. The Bill will likely increase political tensions as RENAMO threatened to resort to violence in the case the Bill will not be passed by parliament.

[1] Manica, Sofala, Tete, Zambezia, Nampula and Niassa.

Serbia – Will the outcome of the snap election affect intra-executive politics?

A snap general election was held in Serbia on March 16th. President Nikolic’s Serbian Progressive Party obtained a strong parliament majority and its current leader, Aleksandar Vucic, is sure to secure the prime minister position. The snap election could also affect the intra-executive relation between the president and the new prime minister, due to the latter’s extensive authority over the government and ruling party.

According to the results reported by the National Electoral Commission based on nearly all votes counted, four electoral lists passed the 5% threshold necessary to get into parliament:

  • SNS (Serbian Progressive Party) – led coalition: 48.34% of the vote and 158 seats
  • SPS (Socialist Party of Serbia) – led coalition: 13.15% of the vote and 44 seats
  • DS (Democratic Party) – 6.04% of the vote and 19 seats
  • New Democratic Party – 5.71% of the vote and 18 seats

Three parties of ethnic minorities will also be represented in the parliament:

  • Alliance of Vojvodina Hungarians (SVM) – 2.11% of the vote and 6 seats
  • Party of Democratic Action (SDA) of Sandzak – 0.95% of the vote and 3 seats
  • Party for Democratic Action-Riza Halimi – 0.68 % of the vote and 2 seats

The snap election was called by the Progressive Party, less than two years after the last general election held in July 2012. The SNS-led coalition topped the polls in 2012 and obtained 73 seats in the 250-seat parliament. However, the prime minister position went to Ivica Dacic, the leader of the Socialist Party. With 44 seats in the parliament, SPS emerged as the kingmaker of the election, as plans for a Grand Coalition between the Progressives and Boris Tadic’s Democratic Party holding 67 seats in the parliament fell through. What followed was a year of political speculation about the timing of the next snap election that would allow the SNS to improve its parliamentary support and to secure the prime minister position.

In the meantime, Aleksandar Vucic, the SNS deputy PM and Ivica Dacic’s main challenger for the prime ministership, strengthened his position within the cabinet and his party. Due to a very active anti-corruption campaign, which drew wide public support and weakened his political opponents, Vucic emerged as the most powerful and popular minister in the Serbian cabinet. The Progressives were also able to capitalize on the government’s popularity, which increased as a result of the successful conclusion of the Serbia-Kosovo agreement, the organisation of local elections in Northern Kosovo in November 2013, and the official start of EU accession talks in January 2014.

There are concerns that Aleksandar Vucic, who does not necessarily have to share power in a coalition government, might use his party’s outright parliamentary majority to strengthen his personal hold over the society. Moreover, his tight grip over the Progressive Party could also reduce the president’s influence over the political system.

Although the presidency enjoys few constitutional powers, Serbian presidents have maintained a relatively high profile in national politics. One reason for their influence over the political system is related to the authority they have preserved over their former parties. 

For example, under the leadership of Boris Tadic, the Democratic Party succeeded to win both presidential and parliamentary elections in 2004 and returned to power following the 2007 and 2008 general elections. In 2012, Tadic resigned as head of state ten months before the end of his term so that concurrent presidential and parliamentary elections would allow the Democrats to capitalize on his coattails. His defeat in the presidential run-off by Tomislav Nikolić, the SNS candidate, played an important role in the Socialist Party’s decision to drop their coalition with the Democrats in favour of a coalition with Nikolic’s Progressives.

Tomislav Nikolic contested the 2012 presidential contest as a de facto leader of the Progressive Party, which broke away from the Serbian Radical Party in 2008 under his leadership. However, he is unlikely to preserve his authority over the party in the face of Aleksandar Vucic, who succeeded him as party president. Vucic ran unopposed for the leadership position in September 2012. To strengthen his legitimacy as a de facto party leader, he was unanimously reconfirmed as party president at a special conference convened in January 2014, where the decision to bring forward the general election was also taken.

Although President Nikolic expressed his support for early elections and endorsed Vucic as future prime minister, they are known as long-lasting political rivals. To prevent the emergence of party divisions and limit presidential influence on intra-party politics, Vucic also used the 2014 party convention to remove the president’s supporters from the party leadership.

Overall, we can expect the results of the 2014 snap election to have an impact on intra-executive politics and reduce the president’s role to its strict constitutional responsibilities. However, the actual relation between the president and the prime minister will depend on the type of cabinet that Aleksandar Vucic will form and on whether the political rivalry between the two political actors will translate into an increased level of presidential activism and/or intra-executive conflict.