Angola is holding a general election today. According to news reports (e.g., BBC) the long-ruling MPLA faces a serious challenge this time from UNITA. I share the skepticism of many observers that the MPLA would actually accept defeat. But I am going to leave that aside, and do what F&V is known for: trying to understand the electoral rules and constitutional structure, in the event the election produces an acceptably fair outcome.
One news story I saw indicated that the voters have only one vote, and that the leader of the party with the most votes becomes president. A Wikipedia article corroborates that, and more importantly, so does the constitution itself, very explicitly (Art. 109). However, the Wikipedia article states that direct election of the president was abolished by the 2010 constitution. That would be an inaccurate portrayal of the provision: If a plurality-winning party’s leader becomes president, even in the absence of clearing 50% of the vote, and need not bargain with other parties to attain the position, that is direct election. More properly it should be thought of as a fused ballot, not indirect election. Similar fused presidential–assembly ballots, with plurality election, have been used in the past in Honduras and the Dominican Republic, for example.
As for the assembly election, the Wikipedia article referenced above says,
The 220 members are elected in two ways; 90 are elected from 18 five-seat constituencies and 130 from a single nationwide constituency. Both constituency types use a closed list proportional representation system : the D’Hondt method in the provincial constituencies and the simple quota largest remainder method in the nationwide constituency. [Links in original; I have not verified them for accuracy.]
It does not say whether this national component is compensatory or parallel. This could be important, as the basic tier evidently consists of equal-magnitude districts based on provinces that are quite unequal in population. I know nothing about the political geography of Angola, other than that when it was still a rebel movement, UNITA tended to be stronger in the south.
On the other hand, whether the system is parallel or compensatory and the degree of malapportionment may not matter greatly given that the national component is 59% of the total assembly. Parallel PR systems are rare, but have existed in various places at times (including Guatemala and Niger). Compensatory two-tier PR is fairly common, of course (e.g., Denmark or South Africa). There is a link in the Wiki page to what seemed would be the election law at the Aceproject. Unfortunately, it is not the full text, just introductory material regarding the law’s taking effect. The constitution itself sets out the two tiers, but not other key electoral rules, other than stating it must be proportional representation (Art. 143-4).
As to the executive format, it appears from my reading of the constitution to be pure presidential. There is no mention of a prime minister, the term is fixed, and the president has legislative powers, including a veto requiring two thirds of the assembly to override and the authority (Art. 124) to “issue provisional Presidential legislative decrees whenever, for reasons of urgency and need, this measure proves necessary in order to defend the public interest” (126). The cabinet (Council of Ministers) is defined as a mere “auxiliary body serving the President of the Republic” (134).
Here’s hoping the exercise in learning about Angolan political institutions matters, whatever the free choice of Angolan citizens.