Voters in Chad returned to the polls April 26 to select their next president. All commentators expect incumbent president Idriss Déby Itno to easily win re-election. This will be his fourth win since overthrowing Hissène Habré in 1990. The president on Chad serves a five-year term with no term limit. He also tends to serve as the head of the Patriotic Salvation Movement party.
How did we get here?
The parliamentary election was held on February 13, 2011. There are over 100 opposition parties in Chad who seek power in the National Assembly. This gives the party in power an overwhelming advantage when it stands for election. As a result, the Patriotic Salvation Movement (Mouvement Patriotique de Salut, MPS) won 110 of the 183 available seats. It would have won many more, if not for the blocs that formed to consolidate opposition votes. (See Think Africa Press for an interesting take on this, as does the blog Who Rules Where.)
This majority in the National Assembly gives President Déby much power in passing his agenda. If this meant there was an incredible increase in the quality of life in Chad, it would not be a bad thing. However, the Human Development Index (HDI) stands at 0.295 (163th in the world); the GDP per capita is $767; the Failed States Index (FSI) is 113.3 (2nd); and the Corruption Perceptions Index is 1.7 (171st).
Not all of this can be blamed on the president (although Chad has not perceptibly improved since 1990 in relation to the States around it). Chad sits on the southern edge of the Sahara desert, surrounded by Sudan, Libya, the Central African Republic, Niger, Nigeria, and Cameroon. None of these States is highly developed — each is suffering due to civil wars, drought, and the resource curse; all are unstable and lacking democracy. Even with that excuse, Déby has done little to make Chad more appealing to external investors and to make Chad a healthier place for Chadians.