Political Change in Madagascar: Populist Democracy or Neopatrimonialism by Another Name?

"This paper examines the formation of the Third Republic in 1992 in a historical context, and the events leading up to the crisis of 2002, before turning to consider the efforts of Marc Ravalomanana and the new government since. This should provide a better understanding of the institutional, social, and personal factors that influence Madagascar’s political direction. To this end, this paper is divided into three sections: the first traces the patterns of political events to 1992 and the institutional structure that Ravalomanana has inherited; the second outlines the events of 2002 and their significance; the final section delves more deeply into the person of Marc Ravalomanana, his nationalistic views and their importance, his relationship with the legislature and the judiciary, and his performance to date, before turning to the recent emergence of challenges to his administration. The paper concludes by offering a tentative answer to the question in the sub-title, considering whether Madagascar has gone through a momentous change in the nature of its democracy or whether it has given birth to a new incarnation of neopatrimonial rule in which the president’s office is used more for personal gain than public benefit."