Cape Verde's modern history is characterized
by stability, both politically and economically. From
independence 1975 to 1990, Cape Verde was a one-party
state. The Socialist PAICV (before 1981 called PAIGC)
was the only allowed party. When free elections were
held in 1991, the liberal party MPD, formed in
opposition to PAICV's special position, prevailed.
During the MPD's ten years in power, Cape Verde
underwent economic deregulation with stable growth as a
result. In 2001, PAICV returned to office after the MPD
was weakened by leadership struggles.
A few days before the independence of the colonial
power Portugal on July 5, 1975, the first general
elections were held in Cape Verde. In the parliamentary
elections, only members of the African
Independence Party of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC)
were allowed to participate. The socialist PAIGC had led
Cape Verde to independence (see Older history) and then
became the new country's only allowed party. PAIGC
leader Aristides Pereira was elected president.
List of most commonly used acronyms containing Cape Verde. Also includes historical, economical and political aspects of the country.
At the time of independence, the idea of a future
union between Cape Verde and Guinea-Bissau lived, but
all plans for a merger between the countries were
abandoned when the Guinean government overthrew a 1980
The following year PAIGC in Cape Verde changed its
name to Cape Verde's African Independence Party
(PAICV). It maintained its position as
the country's only political party for another nine
years. Despite its socialist ideology, PAICV in the
1980s sought to pursue a pragmatic policy, partly to win
as much support as possible among the population, and
partly to ensure a continued flow of international aid
to the country.
PAICV loses power in elections
Gradually, independent candidates gained a greater
political influence, among which several businessmen
were elected to Parliament in 1988. At that time,
several steps were also taken to decentralize and
liberalize the economy. The private sector was given a
more important role.
Growing protests against the one-party system from
the Catholic Church and well-educated cutting values
led to the PAICV giving up its political monopoly in
1990. The following year, the Cape values could choose
between two parties: PAICV and the not-yet-year-old
Movement for Democracy (MPD),
formed in opposition to PAICV's monopoly position.
MPD surprisingly won the parliamentary elections in
January 1991. Under the leadership of Attorney Carlos
Veiga, the party received just over two-thirds of the
votes. In the February presidential election, Aristides
Pereira, who had left PAICV shortly before the election,
was defeated by MPD candidate Antonio Mascarenhas
PAICV's election loss was largely due to the fact
that the party had remained an elite party that lacked
popular support. A limited land reform implemented
during the 1980s had caused a great dissatisfaction -
even among the small farmers whose interests it would
take care of. The fact that PAICV had come into
collision course with the church also contributed to the
Good times for Cape Verde
When Veiga took over as prime minister, the
liberalization of the economy initiated by PAICV was
accelerated. State corporations were privatized and
state subsidies abolished. The government also devoted
considerable resources to health and education. The
result was an economic and social upturn in the 1990s.
MPD also won the parliamentary elections in December
1995 and in the presidential elections a few months
later Monteiro was re-elected. A three-year development
plan adopted in 1998 put the fight against poverty at
the top of the agenda. At the same time, the government
sought to reduce public spending and limit imports.
The government's austerity policy did not become
popular with the population, but gave the country a good
reputation with the donors. The opposition was long weak
and had difficulty challenging the MPD.
In the spring of 1999, Veiga announced that he would
resign as prime minister at the party congress the
following year. It was seen as a signal that he intended
to run for office in the presidential elections in 2001.
The political temperature was further raised when Veiga
almost simultaneously presented a proposal for a new
constitution, which would, among other things, give the
president the right to dissolve parliament. PAICV
accused Veiga of pushing through the proposal to
strengthen his own position.
Veiga's retirement plans triggered a power struggle
within the MPD between Deputy Prime Minister António
Gualberto do Rosário and the capital of Praia Mayor
Jacinto Santos. Veiga supported do Rosário and in an
attempt to regain control of the party, in November 1999
he dismissed three ministers who had joined Santos.
Power struggle within MDP leads to a change of
The municipal elections in February 2000 became a
setback for MPD. The government received criticism for
how it handled the privatization of state-owned
enterprises. Many of the companies had acquired
Portuguese owners, and there was a concern that the
country would lose its influence over its own economy.
The MPD government had for several years managed to
reduce the deficit in the state budget, but this now
rose sharply before the 2001 election.
When Veiga resigned in the fall of 2000, he made sure
to succeed both party leader and prime minister by do
Rosário. But the party leader's struggle had created
great bitterness within the losing phalanx. Several
senior members left the MPD.
The power struggle within the MPD had weakened the
party, and the parliamentary elections in January 2001
led to a change of government. PAICV won by almost half
the votes, giving the party 40 of the 72 seats in the
parliament. MPD received just over 40 percent of the
vote and collapsed from 50 to 30 seats. The two
remaining places joined an alliance of three small