Politics of Senegal


Politics of Senegal

Politics of Senegal takes place in a framework of a semi-presidential, liberal democratic republic, whereby the President of Senegal is the head of state and the Prime Minister of Senegal the head of government. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and parliament. The Judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature.
Senegal is one of the few African states that has never experienced a coup d'etat. Léopold Senghor, the first president after independence, abdicated in favor of his Prime Minister, Abdou Diouf in 1981. The present president, Abdoulaye Wade, was elected in fully democratic elections in March 2000.Senegal has a reputation for transparency in government operations. The level of economic corruption that has damaged the development of the economies in other parts of the world is very low. Today Senegal has a democratic political culture, being part of one of the most successful democratic transitions in Africa.

Introduction

The President is elected by universal adult suffrage to a 5-year term. The unicameral National Assembly has 150 members, who are elected separately from the President. The Socialist Party dominated the National Assembly until April 2001, when in free and fair legislative elections, President Wade's coalition won a majority (90 of 150 seats). The Cour de Cassation (Highest Appeals Court, equivalent to the U.S. Supreme Court) and the Constitutional Council, the justices of which are named by the President, are the nation's highest tribunals. Senegal is divided into 11 administrative regions, each headed by a governor appointed by and responsible to the President. The law on decentralization, which came into effect in January 1997, distributed significant central government authority to regional assemblies.

Senegal’s principal political party was for 40 years the Socialist Party (PS). Its domination of political life came to an end in March 2000, when Abdoulaye Wade, the leader of the Senegalese Democratic Party (PDS) and leader of the opposition for more than 25 years, won the presidency. Under the terms of the 2001 constitution, future presidents will serve for 5 years and be limited to two terms. Wade was the last President to be elected to a 7-year term.

President Wade has advanced a liberal agenda for Senegal, including privatizations and other market-opening measures. He has a strong interest in raising Senegal’s regional and international profile. The country, nevertheless, has limited means with which to implement ambitious ideas. The liberalization of the economy is proceeding, but at a slow pace. Senegal continues to play a significant role in regional and international organizations. President Wade has made excellent relations with the United States a high priority.

There are presently some 72 political parties, most of which are marginal and little more than platforms for their leaders. The principal political parties, however, constitute a true multiparty, democratic political culture, and they have contributed to one of the most successful democratic transitions in Africa, even among all developing countries. A flourishing independent media, largely free from official or informal control, also contributes to the democratic politics of Senegal.

The image of Wade as a constitutional democrat has however been tarnished by events at the end of his mandate. When faced with internal dissent within his own party his main opponent Idrissa Seck was arrested, accused of treason. Wade currently refuses to go along with holding presidential elections in 2006, arguing that there are economic reasons for wanting to hold the presidential and parliamentary elections simultaneously in 2007. Initially Wade's government had the support of a broad section of groups opposed to the socialist government, but gradually individual parties have disassociated themselves from the government and joined the opposition efforts led by PS.

Executive branch

President
Abdoulaye Wade
PDS
1 April 2000
-
Prime Minister
Cheikh Hadjibou Soumaré|
June 2007The president is elected by popular vote for a seven-year term. The prime minister is appointed by the president. The Council of Ministers appointed by the prime minister in consultation with the president

Legislative branch

The National Assembly ("Assemblée Nationale") has 150 members, elected for a five year term, by parallel voting, with multi-seat rather than single-seat constituencies for the plurality part of the system. [http://aceproject.org/ace-en/topics/es/esy/esy_sn]

Political parties and elections

Judicial branch

The nation's highest courts that deal with business issues are the constitutional council, and the court of justice, members of which are named by the president.

Administrative divisions

Senegal is subdivided into 11 regions ("régions", singular - "région"):

Dakar, Diourbel, Fatick, Kaolack, Kolda, Louga, Matam, Saint-Louis, Tambacounda, Thiès, Ziguinchor.Local administrators are all appointed by and responsible to the President.

International relations

Senegal joined with The Gambia to form the nominal confederation of Senegambia in 1982. However, the envisaged integration of the two countries was never carried out, and the union was dissolved in 1989. Despite peace talks, a separatist group in the southern Casamance region has sporadically clashed with government forces since 1982. Senegal has a long history of participating in international peacekeeping.Senegal is member of ACCT, ACP, AfDB, ECA, ECOWAS, FAO, FZ, G-15, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICCt, ICC, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Inmarsat, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ITU, MIPONUH, NAM, OAU, OIC, OPCW, PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNIKOM, UNMIBH, UNMIK, UNTAET, UPU, WADB, WAEMU, WCL, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO


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