Seychelles ruling party wins again

2011-10-02 17:28

Victoria - The ruling People's Party of Seychelles secured a landslide parliamentary election victory on Sunday, official results showed, in a poll boycotted by the main opposition group.

The main opposition Seychelles National Party (SNP) said almost a third of the 51 592 votes cast were spoiled in protest at the lack of electoral reform that deprived its leader of victory in May's presidential election.

"We have a victory but at the same time we wish that the opposition [had] gained some seats in order to encourage more debate," said President James Michel, who heads the People's Party.

The party's victory has paved the way for further economic reforms to liberalise an economy that faced bankruptcy three years ago.

Having secured 89% of valid votes, the People's Party will occupy all 25 national assembly seats filled by directly elected members.

Up to 10 seats were also up for grabs based on the percentage of total votes cast that each party won. That left the ruling party with an extra six seats, having won 60% of total votes polled.

The opposition Popular Democratic Movement (PDM), formed by breakaway members of the SNP, failed to win a single seat, having secured only 7% of all votes polled. The PDM said it would contest that outcome in court.

Rubber stamp assembly

The SNP said its supporters heeded its call to stay at home or spoil their ballots in protest to the government's failure to revise electoral laws, specifically the amount of money parties can spend on campaigning.

The party says a cap would help level the campaign playing field.

"It seems this is exactly what our supports did, helping us put pressure on the ruling party to effect the reforms we in the opposition we have been calling for," SNP spokesperson Gervais Henri said.

Political observers say Seychelles the result dealt a blow to democracy in the archipelago, known as an exclusive hideaway for tycoons and royals.

"A one party assembly in any country is not likely to be very functional as it could tend to serve as a rubber stamp for the government and debates could be one-sided," local commentator John Lablache said.