Africa, Angola, Politics

An Unintelligent Introduction to the Angolan General Election

We have some affection for Angola’s election because the voters are steppin’ to a flag with a weapon.

The Republic of Angola will hold its general election this Wednesday, and we are here to give a crash course on what’s going to go down in this Southern African country. Angola made headlines a couple of years ago when it boasted the world’s most expensive city, it’s capital Luanda, and then it stunned the recession hit developed world by boasting a 22% GDP growth rate in 2007. Things have changed quite a bit since then, as economic growth has flat-lined and this one-party dominant state is beginning to see more cracks in its authority.

So how do things work in Angola? Delight me with your election knowledge.

Angola has a National Assembly (Assembleia Nacional) which elects 220 members to its legislative body. Out of these members, 130 of these folks are elected by proportional representation whilst the remaining 90 are elected by assembly representatives in Angola’s provincial districts. These assembly representatives are themselves elected in local elections before the main shindig. Are you following me?

So who rules the roost right now? Who’s the cock in the hen house? Ooze’ da gaffa’ guvner?

This is what the assembly looks like right now. Yes, right now.

Well done for making it this far. Your interest in Angolan politics is truly a wonder to behold. Since you asked who is leading the scoreboards, it’s time to throw a shit-tonne of acronyms your way as you further your knowledge of the Angolan parliamentary assembly.

This is the MPLA, and these guys have been at the helm since 1975. In other words, Angola is a one party state, and it is likely to stay that way in this election. See that fella in the bottom right corner of our graphic? He is José Eduardo dos Santos, and he has been Angola’s president since 1979; the year Michael Jackson released his fantastic disco hit Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough.

Don’t stop ‘til you get enough power in office to abuse your position in government.

Now you have your soundtrack whilst reading this fine article; let’s look at the fucking losers the official opposition party:

These guys only have 32 seats in the assembly. Pitiful. But we are talking about a one party state. So it’s no wonder that UNITA is kinda screwed in this election. You know, during the Cold War they took weapons and other goodies from both the CIA and Apartheid South Africa to fight the Commies, and they must have invested their capital in that cool flag. Damn… let’s take a closer look.

Who’s the cock in the hen house now, motherfuckers??? But dammmnn. Cool flag. Wait.. is that a cock or a hen?

UNITA is run by Isaías Samakuva, but he is under a lot of intimidation by the MPLA. Allegations of ballot-stuffing and vote rigging have driven UNITA down into the ground, and the party has performed quite poorly in recent elections. I guess he is under a lot of pressure; his predecessor was gunned down by government forces in 2002.

What about the other parties? Who are the other contenders?

Let’s explore some of the minor parties in Angola…

National Front for the Liberation of Angola- (FNLA)

Basically Christian conservatives.They only have a couple of seats in the assembly, but back in the day, they used to be loosely aligned with UNITA against MPLA forces during the Angolan Civil War (1975-2002). They are kinda redundant now, but still a minor force in Angola’s politics.

Social Renewal Party- (PRS)

This is a newer party in Angola, founded 26 years ago. They are progressive, liberal and in favour of a federated nation. No chequered or dodgy history here; they are the closest thing to a Bernie Sanders-style politics you will find in Angola. They have eight seats in the national assembly in Luanda. Bern Baby Bern!

Broad Convergence for the Salvation of Angola – Electoral Coalition (CASA- CE)

These guys are UNITA defectors. They are center-left and also have eight seats in the national assembly. The dude you see in the photo is Abel Chivukuvuku, who leads the joint. Chivukuvuku keeps an official CASA-CE Twitter feed, where he likes and re-tweets Coldplay videos.

So when is election day? What might the outcome be?

Angolans go to the polls on the 23rd August. It is quite a significant election because long term president José Eduardo dos Santos has announced that he will be stepping down from the realms this time round. If anyone believes him, he will be replaced by the MPLA leader-elect João Lourenço who will likely be Angola’s next president.

This is João Lourenço and he will be your commander in chief. Hail to the chief.

Given Angola’s dodgy-democracy status, it is essentially a one-party state that the MPLA fought for decades to control. The outcome is already set, yet the days of massive GDP growth and foreign investment are not as strong as they were ten years ago, and the country is still emerging from the civil war that ravaged its institutions and administrative infrastructure. Would a change of leadership (albeit from the same party) rock the political boat in Angola?

Probably not. Overstaying one’s political welcome has screwed up many other countries in the region. Look at Boss Robert in Zimbabwe for example. Despite being little more than a dictator, long-term president dos Santos probably wants to preserve some legacy; or maybe he is pushing 75 years old and wants to live out his days in Kokomo.

TRIGGER WARNING: This song is known to cause the following: panic attacks, rupture of eardrums, tone deafness, lunacy, confusing thoughts, electrocution etc

About Stuart Chapman

Stuart is a a current affairs connoisseur, picking and scratching at some of the more obscure, ambiguous topics that currently plague the political spectrum. As well as having considerable experience in the analytical art of nitpicking at pariah states and unworkable governments, Stuart manages a UK-based politics publication, and has recently launched his own copywriting start-up firm. As an active member of the Royal Society of Asian Affairs, he takes particular attention to the socio-economic conditions within the region, and enjoys writing opinion pieces within the Asiatic sphere. Outside the world of politics, Stuart enjoys drinking copious amounts of strong black coffee, and jogging at daybreak.

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