National Assembly Results for Sudan’s 2010 Elections: An Analysis
The results of the presidential elections in Sudan came as no surprise to many. When they were announced, most shrugged their shoulders, sharpened their cynicism and moved on to other topics. But the National Assembly elections are being watched with more interest, not because there is anticipation for rapid change or democratic advancement, but because some incremental changes could have a notable effect on Sudan’s future. Will opposition parties in historically marginalized regions like Darfur and eastern Sudan win some legislative seats, giving them a voice on national decisions? Will the SPLM win enough seats to block the NCP’s ability to pass national legislation or amend the constitution? How will the allocation of seats in the National Assembly change from what it was under the interim-constitution?
The answers to these questions are now becoming clear as the electoral results are finalized. In Darfur, the NCP won 75 (87 percent) of the National Assembly seats, while the remaining ten seats were divided between the Umma Federal Party, the Popular Congress Party, the DUP and Independent candidates. In West Darfur, NCP dominance was particularly striking; the party won every National Assembly seat and closed the door on any expectations that there might be a distribution of power in the region. [Note: Constituency #1 (Kulbus) results have not been tallied due to the elections being postponed there.] One noteworthy exception to the NCP sweep occurred in South Darfur, where the PCP won three seats from the women’s list, which appear to be the only opposition victories from the proportional representation lists in Darfur.
I had suggested in my pre-election report for the Rift Valley Institute, Electoral designs: proportionality, representation and constituency boundaries in Sudan’s 2010 Elections, that the elections in Darfur could be important because northern opposition parties were positioned to gain influence if they could win enough seats to side with the SPLM in blocking national legislation; the constitution requires a two-thirds majority to pass national non-budgetary bills. But this did not happen. Instead, opposition groups in Darfur won no more than two percent of the National Assembly seats in the region, preventing them from forming coalitions and influencing national legislation.
Northern opposition parties did not fare well in this election. Under the interim-constitution, they were allocated 14 percent of the National Assembly seats. This number will soon be reduced to 4.2 percent since the opposition parties only won 19 seats in all of the northern states.
In the south, the SPLM won every seat but four; the NCP won one seat, SPLM-DC won two and an independent candidate won another. Therefore, the southern non-SPLM opposition parties will experience a significant reduction in their influence in the National Assembly as well. Under the interim-constitution, southern non-SPLM opposition parties were given 27 seats (6 percent), compared to the 3 seats (.05 percent) they will have soon.
The NCP is the obvious winner in this election, winning approximately 73 percent of the National Assembly seats. This strong majority allows the party to pass whatever legislation it wishes without the chance of it being blocked. More interestingly, it almost gives the party the ability to amend the constitution without opposition. This requires 75 percent of National Assembly votes, meaning that the NCP is only 15 votes shy of meeting this threshold.
It is worth noting, however, that several of the opposition groups, including the Umma Federal Party, which won a total of four seats in Darfur and Al-Gezira, are frequently referred to as “˜satellite parties’ of the NCP. If this is true, and considering the fact that there are still six constituencies that have not reported their results, the NCP could be within a handful of seats from reaching the 75 percent threshold.
Some have argued that, as well as being a treaty to end war, the Comprehensive Peace Agreement helped shepherd Sudan into the nascent stages of multi-party development, providing fertile ground for democratic advancement and party cooperation. This argument is becoming more difficult to make in the wake of Sudan’s legislative and presidential elections. Sudan is now better classified as a two-party state where democracy takes a back seat to the authoritarian regimes that control their respective regions. Opposition parties throughout the entire country now hold less than five percent of the seats in the National Assembly.