The British colony of Seychelles peacefully
became an independent nation in 1976. The following
year, the first president was deposed in a bloody coup.
New president became Albert René whose party has
retained power ever since. René himself handed over to
his Vice President James Michel in 2004. Tourism that
began to develop in the 1970s, together with fishing,
laid the foundation for a good economy. 2016 was the
next change of power when Danny Faure took over as
During the Second World War, the then British colony
of Seychelles was an important base for Britain's navy
and air force. After the war, the first steps were taken
to give the islands a government that represented the
people. But in the first proper elections to the
colony's legislative council in 1948, only ten percent
of the population was allowed to vote.
List of most commonly used acronyms containing Seychelles. Also includes historical, economical and political aspects of the country.
It was not until the early 1960s that two indigenous
parties were formed, the Seychelles People's Unity Party
(SPUP) and the Seychelles Democratic Party (SDP). The
SPUP was led by Albert René who wanted full independence
for the Seychelles, while the SDP led by James Mancham
pleaded to keep the close ties to the UK. In the first
elections with universal suffrage in 1970, SDP won.
In the early 1970s, an international airport was
built that broke the island group's isolation from the
outside world, and the first tourists arrived. The
tourism industry grew rapidly and the distribution of
the revenue it brought in became a matter of contention.
Prior to the 1974 election, SDP also advocated
independence and won again. Despite strong
contradictions, the two parties formed a coalition
Socialist one-party state
In 1976, the Seychelles became an independent nation.
When independence was declared on June 29, Mancham
became president and René became prime minister. A year
later, Mancham, who was then abroad, was deposed in a
coup and René took power. His government began to pursue
a socialist policy and placed more emphasis on
developing agriculture and fishing than the tourism
The ruling SPUP was renamed in 1978 to the Seychelles
Progressive People's Front (SPPF) and the following year
a new constitution was adopted introducing one-party
government. In the presidential election that year,
René, as the sole candidate, received 98 percent of the
vote. He then survived a number of coup attempts and was
re-elected president in 1984 and 1989.
As the Soviet-dominated Communist Empire began to
collapse internationally, in 1989 the President began to
allow more domestic criticism. Abroad, the exile
politicians managed to unite. Mancham formed the New
Democratic Party (NDP) and demanded that the multi-party
system be reinstated. Several major donors also exerted
pressure in the same direction.
The result was that a people-elected Constituent
Assembly drafted a proposal for a new constitution. In
1993, almost three-quarters of voters voted in favor of
the new constitution, which included the abolition of
the one-party system.
Multi-party systems and economic reforms
A few months later, presidential and parliamentary
elections were held. In the presidential election, René
received just over 59 percent of the vote against nearly
37 percent for Mancham and 4 percent for Wavel
Ramkalawan. The latter stood for the relatively newly
formed Seychelles Party (Parti Seselwa, PS). The SPPF
won all the seats in Parliament except one that went to
Mancham's party, which is now renamed the Democratic
After the election, SPPF and DP began close
cooperation and began to liberalize the economy. The
tourism industry, agriculture and fishing were opened to
private interests. The 1998 presidential election also
meant a grand victory for René and SPPF and in the
parliamentary elections held at the same time, the party
gained a majority of seats in the National Assembly.
In the early 2000s, the economy began to stagnate,
partly as a result of an overly slow increase in both
tourism and tuna production. Lack of foreign currency
also hampered the development (see Finance). The
standard of living in the country fell. The government
was faced with the threat of being forced to make major
cuts in social benefits, which would affect the SPPF's
voters and thus threaten the party's power position. At
the same time, support for Ramkalawan and his party
grew, which in 1998 changed its name to the Seychelles
National Party (SNP).
Presidential elections were announced as early as
2001, despite the fact that two years remained of the
term of office. As a reason, President René indicated
that he wanted to be able to give foreign investors a
guarantee of political stability. During the electoral
movement, the opposition blamed the government for the
financial problems that, according to them, had been
caused by widespread corruption and slanderous
policies in the state administration and the
René and SPPF retain power
In the presidential election, René won for the fifth
time, with 54 percent of the vote, against Ramkalawan,
who got almost 45 percent. The opposition claimed that
the government side had cheated and Ramkalawan demanded
that the charges be tried in court. However, the
Constitutional Court did not raise the case, citing a
lack of evidence.
Parliamentary elections were held in 2002 and SPPF
again won. During the year, the economy had deteriorated
even more, much as a result of reduced tourism revenues
following the terrorist attacks in the US the year
René resigned in 2004, after 27 years as president.
He handed over to Vice President James Michel, who had
already taken over some of the president's duties.
At the end of the same year, the Seychelles were hit
by a tsunami in the Indian Ocean. As the authorities
managed to warn residents and tourists via radio and TV,
only two people perished. However, the material damage
was considerable. In addition, many coral reefs were
Claws and boycotts
James Michel won the election in 2006 and could
remain as president. He received 54 percent of the vote,
while 46 percent went to opposition leader Ramkalawan.
The opposition claimed that there were cheats with the
lengths of votes, but international observers judged
that the election was largely correct.
In October 2006, riots broke out outside the National
Assembly, when about 100 opposition supporters protested
that Parliament passed a law that would restrict the
ability of political parties and religious groups to own
radio stations. Police dispelled protesters with tear
gas and rubber bullets. Several people were injured,
As a result of the violence, the SNP launched a
boycott of Parliament. The SNP leader Ramkalawan
reiterated his demands that the opposition should have
more space in the media, that an independent police
force be created and that the electoral system be
The SNP considered boycotting the parliamentary
elections in 2007, but still chose to participate. The
result was the same as in the previous election: 23
seats for SPPF and 11 for SNP.
In 2008, the tourism industry was hit by the global
economic crisis. This led to the government tightening
the state budget, but soon enough the economy began to
In 2009, SPPF changed its name to Parti Lepep
(People's Party). The same year, DP withdrew its former
name New Democratic Party (NDP) and at the same time
broke the cooperation with SNP.
Michel opened the country for foreign investment,
especially from the Persian Gulf and China countries,
which invested in the tourism industry and the
construction sector. The president's critics accused him
of selling the country to foreign interests.
In the May 2011 presidential election, SNP leader
Ramkalawan was again President Michael's main opponent.
The government's reform program, which, among other
things, limited the state's role in the economy and
entailed investments in the private sector, was in many
ways a turning point for the former Socialist Party
Lepep. The SNP found it difficult to coin a possible
voter dissatisfaction with the new economic policy, as
it was close to the party's own political line.
Before the election, the SNP demanded that the
opposition should have more space in the media and that
the electoral system, which the opposition believes
would favor the ruling party, would be reformed.
Ramkalawan accused the government side of bribing voters
not to vote.
Michel won clearly with 55 percent of the vote
against 41 percent for Ramkalawan.
As a result of the fraud charges, the SNP chose to
boycott the work of the National Assembly. The boycott
helped to announce new elections to Parliament, almost a
year in advance. SNP and NDP decided to boycott the
election in protest against the electoral laws. At the
same time, a series of defectors from the SNP formed a
new opposition party, the People's Democratic Movement (PDM).
The election was held between September 29 and
October 1, 2011. Party Lepep received 89 percent of the
vote, and PDM 11 percent. The result meant that all 31
seats went to Parti Lepep. The National Assembly thus
completely without representatives of the opposition.
After the election, the government decided to
evaluate the opposition's heavily criticized electoral
laws. A group consisting of representatives of all the
political parties of the country was appointed to review
the electoral system. In its final report in July 2013,
the group recommended stricter and clearer rules for
party financing and that entirely new voting lengths
should be established.
Power change after opposition success
Presidential elections were announced in the autumn
of 2015 until the beginning of December. Even before the
end of the nomination period (November 11), it was clear
that President James Michel and Vice President Danny
Faure would run for re-election. PDM had also appointed
its candidates: David Pierre and Hervé Anthony and SNP
would again be represented by Wavel Ramkalawan. For the
first time, a woman, Alexia Amesbury, also took part in
the presidential election. Before the election campaign
had even started, several opposition parties complained
that they had been subjected to harassment.
Patrick Pillay, a defender from the ruling party who
in May 2015 formed the Seychelles Alliance Party (Lalyans
Seselwa) who would also be a candidate, claimed he had
been blamed for human smuggling.
The economy became the major issue of dispute during
the election movement. James Michel pointed to high
economic growth figures (4 percent in 2015), while
Ramkalawan placed great emphasis on growing social gaps.
Michel received the most votes, but did not secure
the 50 percent needed for a victory in the first round
of elections. There was thus a second round of elections
between him and Ramkalawan later in December. It ended
with Michel being re-elected, but with hardly any
margin: 193 votes. Ramkalawan questioned the result and
demanded that the election be recalculated. He intended
to go to the Constitutional Court to have this tried.
In early September 2016, the Seychelles went to
parliamentary elections. Party Lepep was then challenged
by a new party coalition, the Seychelles Democratic
Alliance (LDS), an alliance between the SNPs and four
smaller parties, which won 19 of the 33 seats, while
Party Lepep received 14 seats.
After the election, President Michel said he would do
everything he could to get the new National Assembly
working, but only a few weeks later he announced his
departure. On October 16, Vice President Danny Faure
took over as the country's head of state and government.