São Toméan presidential election, 2011
|This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
São Tomé and Príncipe
A presidential election was held in São Tomé and Príncipe in 2011, the first round beginning on 17 July 2011 with a run-off held on 7 August 2011. Incumbent President Fradique de Menezes has served the maximum two terms and could not constitutionally seek a third term. The final result saw former president Manuel Pinto da Costa, aged 74, elected in a narrow victory against Speaker of Parliament Evaristo Carvalho.
The first round was contested by approximately 120 candidates. The candidate from President de Menezes' party, Force for Change Democratic Movement–Liberal Party (Portuguese: Movimento Democrático das Forças de Mudança–Partido Liberal, MDFM–PL), was Delfim Neves, who jointly represented the MDFM–PL and his own Democratic Convergence Party (Portuguese: Partido de Convergencia Democratica, PCD–GR). Pinto da Costa, who ran independently, won the most votes but failed to receive the majority required to claim an outright victory. Carvalho, of the ruling party Independent Democratic Action (Portuguese: Acção Democratica Independente, ADI), a former prime minister and the incumbent Speaker of the National Assembly, placed second. A run-off to be contested between Pinto da Costa and Carvalho was announced on the same day. Pinto da Costa received the backing of the majority of eliminated candidates, and he was expected to win comfortably.
Pinto da Costa won the runoff, held 7 August, by five percentage points. He is scheduled to take office on 3 September and remain as president for a term of five years.
Manuel Pinto da Costa previously served as São Tomé and Príncipe's first president from independence in 1975. He governed the islands as a one-party socialist state under the Movement for the Liberation of São Tomé and Príncipe (Portuguese: Movimento de Libertação de São Tomé e Príncipe, MLSTP). In 1991, the legalisation of opposition political parties led to the country's first election under a democratic system. Pinto da Costa was not a candidate in that election and instead announced he would retire from politics. The MLSTP did not present an alternative candidate and Miguel Trovoada was elected unopposed. Despite his previous declaration, Pinto da Costa returned to participate in the presidential elections of 1996, but was narrowly defeated by Trovoada. In 2001, he ran against incumbent president Fradique de Menezes, and was again unsuccessful.
Pinto da Costa resigned from the MLSTP in 2005. The party is currently led by Aurélio Martins, who placed sixth in the first round vote count. Other major candidates included former prime minister Maria das Neves and former defence minister Elsa Pinto, both independents. Pinto da Costa's main rival, Carvalho, represented the ADI, which won the parliamentary elections in August 2010 and is the ruling party of incumbent Prime Minister Patrice Trovoada.
A total of 92,639 citizens were registered to vote. In the first round, the national electoral commission, headed by Victor Correia, recorded a turnout of 68%. Of the 120 candidates, Da Costa and Carvalho won the most votes (35.6% and 21.8% respectively), but neither candidate received enough support to claim a majority. Delfim Neves and Maria das Neves both won substantial vote counts (over 14% each), but only the first two placeholders went through to the run-off. After the results were confirmed, most of the eliminated candidates, including Delfim Neves, Maria das Neves and Aurélio Martins, endorsed da Costa's bid for the run-off.
Missions from the African Union, Community of Portuguese Language Countries and the Economic Community of Central African States sent observers to monitor the election, which was declared free and fair. The only major controversy observed was a boycott by around 30,000 from five small villages on São Tomé's northern shore, in protest over grievances with living conditions that had not been addressed. The polls were re-opened in these villages on 20 July, but the results did not affect the outcome.
|Candidates – Nomating parties||First round||Second round|
|Manuel Pinto da Costa – independent||21,457||35.62||35,112||52.88|
|Evaristo Carvalho – Independent Democratic Action||13,125||21.79||31,287||47.12|
|Delfim Neves – Democratic Convergence Party – Reflection Group and Force for Change Democratic Movement – Liberal Party||8,652||14.36|
|Maria das Neves – independent||8,461||14.04|
|Elsa Pinto – independent||2,682||4.45|
|Aurélio Martins – Movement for the Liberation of São Tomé and Príncipe/Social Democratic Party||2,445||4.06|
|Filinto Costa Alegre – independent||2,401||3.99|
|Hélder Barros – independent||414||0.69|
|Jorge Coelho – independent||401||0.67|
|Manuel de Deus Lima – independent||208||0.35|
|Source: African Election Database|
Several analysts have raised concerns that Pinto da Costa's victory may trigger a return to the authoritarian rule seen during his previous period in power.
- Staff writers (6 August 2011). "Sao Tome Prepares for Presidential Run-Off". Voice of America. Retrieved 7 August 2011.
- Veiga, Abel. "Sao Tome presidential vote set for run-off". Google News. Retrieved 20 July 2011.
- Agence France-Presse (8 August 2011). "Manuel Pinto da Costa eleito Presidente de São Tomé". Público (in Portuguese). Retrieved 7 August 2011.
- Pinto da Costa, Manuel. "Homepage". Retrieved 23 July 2011.
- Veiga, Abel. "Former Sao Tome leader poised to retake power". Google News. Agence France-Presse. Retrieved 8 August 2011.
- Staff writers (7 August 2011). "Sao Tome picks new president". Google News. Agence France-Presse. Retrieved 7 August 2011.
- "Sao Tome votes in presidential poll". Retrieved 25 June 2011.
- "Elections in São Tomé and Príncipe". African Elections Database. Retrieved 8 August 2011.
- "African elections held in the past year". African Elections Database. Retrieved 28 July 2011.
- "São Tomé and Príncipe 2011". World Elections. Retrieved 23 July 2011.
- Felix, Bate; Neto, Ricardo (8 August 2011). "Sao Tome's Pinto da Costa wins presidential runoff". Reuters. Retrieved 8 August 2011.