Angola 2022

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.

12 thoughts on “Angola 2022

    • “Artigo 27.º

      (Sistema de representação proporcional)

      Os Deputados à Assembleia Nacional são eleitos segundo o sistema de representação proporcional, obedecendo-se, para a conversão dos votos em mandatos, ao critério e regras previstas nos números seguintes.
      Para a conversão dos votos em mandatos relativos a cada círculo eleitoral provincial é aplicado o método de Hondt, nos seguintes termos:
      a) apura-se em separado o número de votos validamente expressos e recebidos por cada lista no respectivo círculo eleitoral provincial;
      b) o número de votos apurados por cada lista é dividido, sucessivamente, por um, dois, três, quatro e cinco, sendo os quocientes alinhados pela ordem decrescente da sua grandeza numa série de cinco termos, correspondentes ao número de mandatos de cada círculo eleitoral provincial;
      c) os mandatos pertencem às listas a que correspondem os termos da série estabelecida pela regra anterior, recebendo cada uma das listas tantos mandatos quantos os seus termos na série;
      d) no caso de restar um só mandato para distribuir e de os termos seguintes serem iguais aos das listas diferentes, o mandato cabe à lista que tiver o menor número de votos não transformados em assentos.
      A conversão dos votos em mandatos relativos ao círculo eleitoral nacional é feita pela aplicação dos seguintes critérios:
      a) apurado o número total de votos validamente expressos de todo o País e no exterior, divide-se este número total apurado por 130, que é o número de Deputados a eleger e obtém-se o quociente;
      b) divide-se o número de votos obtidos por cada lista pelo quociente obtido nos termos da alínea anterior e apura-se o número de Deputados de cada lista, por ordem de apresentação da lista de cada partido político ou coligação de partidos concorrentes;

      c) no caso de restarem alguns mandatos, os Deputados são distribuídos em ordem do resto mais forte de cada partido político ou coligação de partidos políticos concorrentes.

      Para a distribuição dos mandatos restantes concorrem apenas os partidos políticos ou coligações de partidos políticos que tenham conseguido eleger pelo menos um Deputado”

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    • “Article 27

      (Proportional representation system)

      The Deputies to the National Assembly are elected according to the system of proportional representation, obeying, for the conversion of votes into mandates, the criteria and rules provided for in the following numbers.

      1 – For the conversion of votes into mandates for each provincial constituency, the d’Hondt method is applied, as follows:
      a) the number of votes validly cast and received by each list in the respective provincial constituency is determined separately;
      b) the number of votes counted by each list is successively divided by one, two, three, four and five, the quotients being aligned in descending order of their magnitude in a series of five terms, corresponding to the number of mandates in each constituency provincial election;
      c) the mandates belong to the lists to which the terms of the series established by the previous rule correspond, each of the lists receiving as many mandates as there are terms in the series;
      d) in the event that only one mandate remains to be distributed and the following terms are the same as those of the different lists, the mandate belongs to the list that has the lowest number of votes not converted into seats.

      2 – The conversion of votes into mandates relating to the national constituency is carried out by applying the following criteria:
      a) once the total number of votes validly cast throughout the country and abroad has been calculated, this total number calculated is divided by 130, which is the number of Deputies to be elected, and the quotient is obtained;
      b) the number of votes obtained by each list is divided by the quotient obtained under the terms of the previous paragraph and the number of Deputies of each list is determined, in order of presentation of the list of each political party or coalition of competing parties;
      c) in the event that some seats remain, the Deputies are distributed in order of the strongest remainder of each political party or coalition of competing political parties.

      3 – For the distribution of the remaining seats, only are in competition the political parties or coalitions of political parties that have managed to elect at least one Deputy.”

      [Most of the article seems to be explaining what is the d’Hondt method and the largest remainder method]

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  1. Because I saw a bus of the CNE in my home town Antwerp yesterday, I wonder : do out-of-country votes only count for the president and the national (130) tier but not for the provincial tier?

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    • Probably – not only the article 27 of Electoral Law (that I transcribed above) gives that impression, but also the 24:

      “Artigo 24.º

      (Círculos eleitorais e número de mandatos)

      Para efeitos de eleição dos Deputados à Assembleia Nacional, o território nacional divide-se em círculos eleitorais, existindo um círculo nacional e círculos eleitorais provinciais, correspondentes a cada uma das províncias.
      O círculo nacional elege 130 Deputados, considerandose, para este efeito, a totalidade dos votos validamente expressos no país e no exterior.
      Cada círculo provincial elege 5 Deputados, considerando-se para tal o território da respectiva província.”

      “Article 24

      (Electoral constituencies and number of representatives)

      For the purposes of electing Deputies to the National Assembly, the national territory is divided into constituencies, with a national constituency and provincial constituencies corresponding to each of the provinces.
      The national constituency elects 130 Deputies, considering, for this purpose, the totality of votes validly expressed in the country and abroad.
      Each provincial circle elects 5 Deputies, considering the territory of the respective province.”

      If, in the point 2, they say that the votes “abroad” count to the national constituency, and in the point 3 don’t say anything about the votes “abroad”, I think that is logic to presume that they don’t count for the provincial circles

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      • Very interesting. I often wonder about how countries apply votes abroad to legislative allocations (when there is not a set constituency for voters abroad).

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  2. ” 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.”

    Now, apparently, there was a total inversion – UNITA wins in Luanda (and in the northern province of Zaire), MPLA in the rest of the country

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    • So 56.4% of the seats for MPLA and 40.9% for UNITA. Elsewhere I saw that the votes split around 51% for MPLA and 44% for UNITA.

      There is predictably some skepticism over whether the votes are accurately reported. But the advantage ratio of 1.105 shows a votes-to-seat conversion rate that is not too advantageous to the plurality party, despite the malapportionment of the provincial districts and the parallel allocation of the national seats.

      However, UNITA is somewhat under-represented, which is probably mostly due to that malapportionment. It was the second party everywhere by Luanda (the capital) and one other province. Some of its underrepresentation could also be due to the largest-remainder allocation of the national seats. Three small parties combine for six seats, and UNITA’s shortfall from proportionality is a little short of 7 seats. Hare and largest remainders tends to be more favorable to smaller parties, relative to D’Hondt.

      It does look like the sort of result that could open a path towards democratization, but of course, there are plenty of landmines (I don’t mean literally, although that too) that could get in the way over the next five years of this term.

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  3. Pingback: Angola 2022: What (effective) seat product and impact on the outcome? | Fruits and Votes

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