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Cabo Verde

Section 3. Freedom to Participate in the Political Process

The constitution provides citizens the ability to choose their government in free and fair periodic elections held by secret ballot and based on universal and equal suffrage.

Residents who are not Cabo Verdean citizens are able to vote in municipal elections. Any foreigner residing in Cabo Verde for more than three years can vote in municipal elections. Any resident from a member country of the Community of Countries of Portuguese Language (CPLP)–which includes Angola, Brazil, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Portugal, and Timor-Leste–can vote in municipal elections regardless of how long they have resided in Cabo Verde. Only Cabo Verdean citizens, including those living outside the country, can vote in legislative and presidential elections.

Elections and Political Participation

Recent Elections: In the 2016 legislative elections, individuals and parties were free to declare their candidacies and candidates for a total of 72 seats. The main opposition party, Movement for Democracy (MpD), won 40 seats in the National Assembly with approximately 53 percent of the vote, returning the party to power for the first time in 15 years. The ruling party, African Party for the Independence of Cabo Verde (PAICV), won 29 seats with 37 percent, and the Union for a Democratic and Independent Cabo Verde (UCID) won the remaining three seats with 6 percent. International observers characterized these elections as generally free and fair.

The most recent presidential election took place on October 2. Jorge Carlos Fonseca, the candidate supported by the MpD, won the election with approximately 74 percent of the vote.

Election observers from the African Union and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) characterized these elections as free, transparent, and credible. Observers noted some irregularities, however, including voters being pressured near polling stations to vote for certain candidates and allegations of vote buying.

Participation of Women and Minorities: Male dominance in positions of power continued despite efforts to promote women’s advancement.

Women’s participation fell in positions within the central government but remained particularly high on the SCJ, and especially in prosecutorial positions. At the local level, however, in community associations and on city councils, women had less representation.

Women held 17 of the 72 National Assembly seats and occupied three of the 11 cabinet-level positions in government ministries. Women filled three of the eight seats on the SCJ, including the presidency, and one female mayor was elected in the 2012 municipal elections.

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U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future