Constitution of Madagascar
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politics and government of
The current Constitution of Madagascar was, according to the national electoral commission, endorsed by a majority of voters in the constitutional referendum held on 14 November 2010. The new constitution launched the Fourth Republic of Madagascar and was widely seen as an attempt to consolidate and legitimise the rule of Andry Rajoelina and his High Transitional Authority government which was installed after a military-backed coup d'état against President Marc Ravalomanana at the beginning of the ongoing national political crisis. One substantive change from the constitution of the Third Republic was to lower the minimum age for presidential candidates from 40 to 35. This made Rajoelina, aged 36 at the time, eligible to stand in presidential elections.
Constitution of the Fourth Republic
On November 22, 2010, the electoral commission of Madagascar announced that a new constitution had been endorsed in a referendum by 74 percent of voters. It put voter turnout for the poll at 53 percent. One substantive change made by the new constitution was to lower the minimum age for presidential candidates from 40 to 35. This made Andry Rajoelina, who is 36 and is the President of the country's High Transitional Authority, eligible to stand in presidential elections.
Constitution of the Third Republic
The Third Republic received its first expression of popular support and legitimacy on August 19, 1992, when the constitutional framework constructed by the National Conference was approved by more than 75 percent of those voting in a popular referendum (the constitution took effect on September 12). On this date, the people overwhelmingly approved a new constitution consisting of 149 articles that provided for the separation of powers among the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government; the creation of a multiparty political system; and the protection of individual human rights and freedom of speech.
The third constitution of Madagascar was amended in 1995, 1998, and 2007.
Structure of government
|This section is outdated. (January 2011)|
The power of the executive branch is divided between a president who is elected by universal suffrage and a prime minister from the parliament who is nominated by his/her peers but who must be approved by the president. If the nominee for prime minister does not achieve an absolute majority of support within the parliament, the president may choose a candidate from the parliament who will serve for one year. As captured in the Malagasy concept ray aman-dreny (father and mother of the nation), enshrined in Article 44 of the constitution, the president serves as the symbol of national unity. The president also is the recognized decision maker in foreign policy and is the single most powerful person within the country. All presidential decrees must be countersigned, however, and the president is bound by the constitutional reality that the prime minister is responsible for the functioning of the government.
The president is elected for a five-year period and is limited to two terms in office. In the event that no candidate wins a simple majority of the popular vote, a run-off election is held between the two leading candidates within a period of two months. The most important unwritten law regarding the executive branch revolves around the côtier/central highlands distinction. If a côtier is elected president, it is understood that a Merina will fill the position of prime minister, and vice versa.
The constitution provides for a bicameral parliament composed of a Senate and a National Assembly (Assembleé Nationale). The Senate represents territorial groups and serves as the consultative chamber on social and economic issues. Two-thirds of its members are chosen by an Electoral College and the remaining one-third are chosen by the president. The National Assembly consists of 138 deputies elected by universal suffrage using a proportional representation list-system. Both senators and deputies serve for four years. The parliament as a whole operates with a variety of classic parliamentary measures, such as the possibility of a vote of no confidence, that enable it to serve as a check on the power of the executive.
A strong, independent judiciary is also enshrined in the 1992 constitution. An eleven-member supreme court serves as the highest arbiter of the laws of the land. Other judicial bodies include the Administrative and Financial Constitutional Court, the Appeals Courts, tribunals and the High Court of Justice. The creation of this complex system indicates the desire of the framers of the constitution for a society built upon the rule of law. Indeed, the constitution explicitly outlines the fundamental rights of individual citizens and groups (most notably freedom of speech) and guarantees the existence of an independent press free from government control or censorship.
The electoral system is designed to promote and facilitate widespread popular participation. In fact, it is argued that the proportional representation list-system (including the rule of the largest remainder) for electing deputies actually encourages large numbers of candidates to take part. All resident citizens eighteen years of age or older can vote in elections, but candidates must be at least twenty-one years of age to stand as candidates. Electoral registers are usually revised during a two-month period beginning in December, and the country is divided into sixty-eight constituencies for electoral purposes.
- History of the Constitution of Madagascar (official site of the President of the Republic of Madagascar)
- Constitution of 1992, version of 2007
- Constitution of 2010
- Madagascar Approves New Constitution, Voice of America, 22 November 2010.
- Madagascar's new constitution approved in ballot, Reuters, November 22, 2010].
- Peter J. Schraeder. "Constitution and Institutions of Governance". Madagascar: A country study (Helen Chapin Metz, ed.). Library of Congress Federal Research Division (August 1994). This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.