Cape Verde is a country located in Western Africa. With the capital city of Praia, Cape Verde has a population of 555,998 based on a recent census from COUNTRYAAH. 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.
- ABBREVIATIONFINDER: 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 coup. Check best-medical-schools for more information about Cape Verde.
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 Monteiro.
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 defeat.
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 government
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 parties.