Election Watch

Issue Date Summer 1990
Volume 1
Issue 3
Page Numbers 132-37
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ELECTION RESULTS (March 1990—June 1990)

Algeria: The fundamentalist Islamic Salvation Front swept to victory in municipal and regional elections on June 12, winning 53 percent of the vote and handing a decisive defeat to the ruling National Liberation Front (FLN), which received 34 percent of the vote. Two centrist parties, the Front of Socialist Forces and the Populist Movement for Democracy, boycotted the elections to protest expected government fraud. A third, the Rally for Culture and Democracy, won 8 percent of the vote. The FLN has ruled the country since independence in 1962.

Bulgaria: In elections for the Grand National Assembly, the Bulgarian Socialist Party (as the reformed Communist Party is now known) won a surprising 48 percent of the vote. The main opposition group, the Union of Democratic Forces, trailed with 34 percent of the vote and charged the government with fraud and intimidation. International observers noted that “fear is still a factor” in Bulgaria but declared the elections generally free and fair.

Burma/Myanmar: Despite the military’s arrest and intimidation of opposition leaders, the National League for Democracy (NLD) won an estimated two-thirds of the vote in the first multiparty elections in the country in 30 years. The NLD appears to have taken more than 350 of the 575 seats in the National Assembly in the May 27 balloting. The vote was seen as a repudiation of the reigning military regime and its National Unity Party. The government has not announced how or when the new assembly will take power.

Colombia: In March 11 elections to the bicameral Congress, the ruling [End Page 132] Liberal Party won a majority of the seats in both houses. In balloting held May 27, Liberal Party candidate César Gaviria Trujillo was elected president with 48 percent of the vote, followed by Alvaro Gómez of the Movement for National Salvation with 25 percent, Antonio Navarro of the (now disarmed) M-19 guerrilla movement with 12 percent, and Rodrigo Lloreda of the Social Conservative Party with 11 percent. After a campaign during which three presidential candidates were assassinated, the election itself was peaceful.

Czechoslovakia: Civic Forum, the movement led by President Václav Havel, and its Slovak counterpart, Public Against Violence, won 46 percent of the vote and 169 of the 300 seats in the two houses of the new federal legislature in elections held June 9-10. The Communist Party finished a distant second with 48 seats, and was followed by an alliance of three Christian Democratic parties with 40 seats.

Dominica: The Dominica Freedom Party of Prime Minister Eugenia Charles won 11 of 21 seats in May 28 parliamentary elections, giving Charles a third consecutive five-year term. The United Workers’ Party and the Dominica Labor Party won 6 and 4 seats, respectively.

Dominican Republic: Joaquín Balaguer of the Social Christian Reformist Party defeated Juan Bosch of the Dominican Liberation Party by a margin of 35.7 to 34.4 percent in presidential balloting on May 16. Bosch had alleged fraud in the election, but a recount by the Central Election Board confirmed Balaguer’s victory. The results of many legislative elections were also challenged and are still being finalized.

Ecuador: Elections for Ecuador’s unicameral National Chamber of Representatives were held June 17. Results will be reported in our next issue.

German Democratic Republic: In historic parliamentary elections on March 18, the conservative Alliance for Germany—which is composed of the Christian Democratic Union, the German Social Union, and Democratic Awakening—won 48.1 percent of the vote and 193 of the 400 seats in the People’s Chamber. The Social Democratic Party won 87 seats, the Party of Democratic Socialism (formerly the Communist Party) 65 seats, and the League of Free Democrats 21 seats. Alliance ’90, which included New Forum and Democracy Now, won 12 seats.

Hungary: Hungarian voters gave the nationalist Hungarian Democratic Forum (MDF) a sizable victory in balloting on March 25 and April 8. The MDF garnered 43 percent of the vote and 165 of 386 contested parliamentary seats, while its coalition partners, the Smallholders’ Party [End Page 133] and the Christian Democratic People’s Party, won 43 and 21 seats, respectively. The free-market oriented Alliance of Free Democrats won 92 seats, and the allied Federation of Young Democrats 21 seats. The Hungarian Socialist Party (formerly the Communist Party) won 33 seats.

Peru: Alberto Fujimori, the candidate of Change ’90, defeated FREDEMO candidate Mario Vargas Llosa in a presidential runoff election on June 10, winning more than 55 percent of the vote. Though Vargas Llosa received 32 percent to Fujimori’s 29 percent in the first round election on April 8, Fujimori won the endorsement of President Alan García and his APRA party for the runoff and was widely expected to win the presidency.

Romania: Acting President Ion Iliescu was elected president with 85 percent of the vote, and his ruling National Salvation Front won 67 percent of the parliamentary vote in elections on May 20. Though observers described the election as essentially free and fair, the campaign was marred by documented instances of government violence and intimidation against the opposition and by unequal access to government-controlled media.

Union of Soviet Socialist Republics: See the special report by Dawn Mann on the next page.

Yugoslavia: Milan Kučan of the Party of Democratic Reform (as the League of Communists is now known) was elected president of Slovenia in an April 22 runoff, defeating Joze Pucnik of DEMOS, which favors greater autonomy for the republic. DEMOS won a strong majority, however, in the Slovene Assembly. Balloting in Croatia on April 22 and May 6 gave the nationalist Croatian Democratic Union 158 seats in the 356-seat parliament. The Croatian League of Communists-Party of Democratic Reform came in a distant second with 42 seats.

Zimbabwe: In elections held March 27-28, the Zimbabwe Unity Movement (ZUM) challenged the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) of President Robert Mugabe, who has often stated his desire to establish one-party rule in Zimbabwe. ZUM leader Edgar Tekere mustered 16 percent of the presidential vote to Mugabe’s 78 percent, and ZUM won only 4 of the 120 contested parliamentary seats. Fifty-five percent of the electorate voted, as compared to over 95 percent in elections in 1980 and 1985. ZUM faced formidable obstacles throughout the campaign, ranging from a ban on its rallies to the detention without trial of many of its members. [End Page 134]


From January through June, most of the constituent republics of the Soviet Union held elections for their Supreme Soviets (i.e., republic parliaments), local soviets, and city councils. Runoffs were necessary in hundreds of electoral districts because of the large number of candidates and the requirements of Soviet election law (to be elected, a candidate must win at least 50 percent of the vote with at least 50 percent of eligible voters participating). In the absence of complete election results and clear party affiliations, it is difficult to make precise estimates about the political composition of many of the newly elected bodies.

In the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic (RSFSR), 6,705 candidates vied for 1,068 seats in the republic’s Congress of People’s Deputies. Parties other than the CPSU were not allowed to participate in the elections, but many candidates were aligned with one or more of the hundreds of popular fronts, political clubs, and interest groups that have arisen in Russia over the last year or so.

The Democratic Russia movement, an organization uniting many of the more progressive political groups, won 190 seats. As had been expected, Communist Party officials made a poor showing. Nationalists running on the platform of the Bloc of Social-Patriotic Organizations of Russia also met with little popular support (see “The Return of Russian Nationalism” in this issue of the Journal of Democracy).

In late May, Boris Yeltsin, the one-time Politburo member who advocates radical political and economic reform, was elected chairman of the RSFSR Supreme Soviet by the slimmest of majorities after three rounds of voting, defeating two conservative candidates endorsed by Gorbachev. The narrowness of his victory testifies to the virtually equal strength of the opposing camps in the Congress.

Three-quarters of the nearly 800,000 seats in local soviets were filled in elections on March 4. Results varied widely across the vast expanse of the RSFSR. Reformers did especially well in the major cities, not only in Leningrad and Moscow but also in Yaroslavl’ and Sverdlovsk. In Khabarovsk, Irkutsk, and Novosibirsk, candidates running on a platform of Siberian populism made clear gains. Many of the new local soviets are evidently split between reformers and conservatives; some have, for instance, needed several weeks to make the once perfunctory choice of a chairman.

In elections for the Leningrad City Council, members of the Democratic Elections-90 coalition won more than 60 percent of the 400 seats. (The extremist Russian nationalist group Pamiat’ supported 150 candidates, all of whom lost.) Anatolii Sobchak, an advocate of radical reform and a founding member of the Interregional Group of People’s Deputies, was elected chairman.

Members of Democratic Russia formed the largest bloc of delegates [End Page 135] elected to the Moscow City Council. Two prominent reformers, economist Gavriil Popov and political scientist Sergei Stankevich, were elected chairman and vice-chairman, respectively.

Elections for the Ukraine‘s Supreme Soviet gave a majority of seats to Communist Party officials and apparatchiks. Rukh—the Ukrainian Popular Front—and other progressive groups won a significant minority in the Supreme Soviet by sweeping the elections in Lvov and in Western Ukraine and making a strong showing in Kiev. More than half the seats on the Kiev City Council were reportedly won by members of Rukh, the association of Greens, or other new political groupings. Republican Communist Party chief Vladimir Ivashko was elected chairman of the Ukrainian Supreme Soviet amid protests over his holding both the top party and state posts.

The Byelorussian Popular Front and other informal associations mounted a vigorous challenge to the firmly entrenched Communist Party of Byelorussia, winning more seats than expected in the republic’s Supreme Soviet. Incumbent chairman Nikolai Dementei narrowly withstood a challenge by Popular Front candidate Stanislav Shushkevich.

The Lithuanian democratic movement Sajudis, which advocates independence for the Baltic republic, won 90 of 141 seats in Lithuania‘s Supreme Soviet. The new chairman, Vytautas Landsbergis, is the first non-Communist to hold this post in a Soviet republic. In elections for Latvia‘s 201-seat Supreme Soviet, candidates endorsed by the Latvian Popular Front and other proindependence groups won 138 seats. The Russian-dominated Interfront won 40 seats. Communists won 55 of 105 seats in Estonia‘s Supreme Soviet, but are split into an independent and a Moscow-aligned camp. The People’s Front of Estonia won 46 seats.

The Moldavian Popular Front and other popular movements won approximately 50 percent of the seats in Moldavia‘s Supreme Soviet. Proreform Communist Mircea Snegur upset republican Communist Party leader Petr Luchinsky in the race for chairman.

The elections for Supreme Soviets in Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kirgizia, and Kazakhstan differed little from previous elections in the Central Asian republics; they were marked by the suppression of dissent, high voter turnouts, and overwhelming Communist Party victories.

Well over half the contests for Armenia‘s Supreme Soviet remained undecided after a first round of elections in May in which the Armenian Pan-National Movement polled 30 percent, and results from June runoffs are not yet available. Results from Georgia‘s June balloting are also unavailable. Elections in Azerhaijan have been postponed because of the state of emergency in effect there. [End Page 136]

UPCOMING ELECTIONS (July 1990—June 1991)

Brazil: legislative, 3 October 1990

Cape Verde: presidential, early 1991

El Salvador: legislative, 17 March 1991

Guatemala: legislative/presidential, 4 November 1990

Guyana: legislative/presidential, by March 1991

Haiti: presidential, September 1990 (no date set)

Kiribati: parliamentary, May 1991 (no date set)

Mongolia: parliamentary, 29 July 1990

Nepal: by April 1991

São Tomé & Príncipe: legislative/presidential, September 1990 (no date set)

Western Samoa: parliamentary, February 1991 (no date set) 

Election Watch provides reports of recently decided and upcoming elections in developing nations and the communist world. Elections in nondemocratic nations are included when they exhibit a significant element of genuine competition or, in the case of upcoming elections, when they represent an important test of progress toward democracy. The data in Election Watch are provided by the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), 1620 I Street, NW, Suite 61 I, Washington, D.C. 20006; (202) 828-8507. [End Page 137]