Cape Verde voters will vote this Sunday in the first round of the presidential election, which will determine who will succeed Jorge Carlos Fonseca; the seventh election since democratic transition began in 1991 for a country considered a model of post-colonial democratic stability, more than forty years after its independence from Portugal.
Of the seven candidates presented, two stand out: Carlos Veiga, supported by the Movement for Democracy (MPD) and the Democratic and Independent Cape Verdean Union (UCID); and José Maria Neves, nominated with the support of the African Party for the Independence of Cape Verde (PAICV). The MPD and the PAICV hold 90 percent of the seats in parliament.
Veiga is one of the founding members of the MpD, a party that played a central role in Cape Verde’s transition to democratization. The 71-year-old candidate, whose post as US ambassador ended in 2020, was Prime Minister from 1991 to 2000.
For his part, Neves was elected Prime Minister in 2001. He held the longest term in office in the country’s history and was elected three times in a row through 2016. The 61-year-old man is the former president and deputy of the PAICV.
Although the Prime Minister (Ulisses Correia e Silva) usually holds the executive power in Cape Verde, the role of the President goes beyond the purely ceremonial character and becomes a figure of consensus, stability and the protector of the constitution.
The winner of the elections – the second ballot is scheduled for October 31st, if no one gets a majority – will be faced with a very difficult economic situation due to the pandemic. Production fell by 14.8 percent in 2020, partly due to the country’s dependence on tourism, which makes up 25 percent of the economy.