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Seychelles : Constitution and politics

Constitution

Status: 
Republic with executive president
Legislature: 
National Assembly
Independence: 
29 June 1976

The independence constitution provided for a multiparty state. The 1979 constitution made Seychelles a one-party state, the sole candidate for a presidential election to be nominated by the ruling party. This constitution was amended in 1992, when multiparty democracy was reintroduced and, after a process of consultation involving referendums, replaced by the 1993 constitution. Under the 1993 constitution, Seychelles is a unitary republic, with a multiparty democracy. It has a unicameral parliament, the National Assembly, comprising up to 35 seats, 25 of which are elected by universal adult suffrage, on a first-past-the-post basis, and up to ten seats on the basis of proportional representation. Parliamentary and presidential elections take place every five years, not necessarily at the same time. The president appoints a cabinet – not including members of parliament – and is empowered under the 1993 constitution to rule by decree. In August 1996, the constitution was amended to create the office of vice-president.

Politics

Following the 1998 elections Wavel Ramkalawan formed a new party, the Seychelles National Party (SNP), to succeed his United Opposition party. In an early presidential election in September 2001, René was returned to office, securing 54 per cent of the votes, defeating Ramkalawan (45 per cent), in a much closer contest than in 1998. Though the SNP significantly strengthened its position in the parliamentary elections in December 2002, with 11 of the 34 elective seats and 43 per cent of the votes, the ruling Seychelles People’s Progressive Front (SPPF) – with 23 seats – remained in control of the National Assembly.

Following the elections, the SPPF chose Vice-President and Finance Minister James Michel as their candidate for the presidential contest due in 2006, France Albert René being allowed only two terms under the constitution. In April 2004, after almost 27 years as head of state, René stood down and Michel became President.

Michel was endorsed by the electorate in the July 2006 presidential contest when, with 54 per cent of the votes cast, he defeated the SNP’s Wavel Ramkalawan.

In the parliamentary elections held in May 2007, the ruling SPPF, with 56 per cent of the votes, again won 23 seats and the SNP, with 44 per cent, again took 11.

At its 24th National Congress in June 2009 the SPPF was renamed the People’s Party.

In the May 2011 presidential election Michel was re-elected, winning 56 per cent of the votes cast. His principal rival, Ramkalawan of the SNP, secured 41 per cent of the votes. A Commonwealth expert team present declared the electoral process credible. Among its recommendations were that the government carry out a thorough review of electoral legislation, and establish an independent electoral commission, as recommended in the April 2010 report of the Constitutional Review Commission.

Following the presidential election in May 2011 the SNP boycotted parliament citing the slow pace of electoral reform. Some disaffected SNP members then formed a new party, the Popular Democratic Movement (PDM), to fight the parliamentary elections which were held from 29 September to 1 October 2011. The elections were again won by the People’s Party led by President James Michel, taking all 25 elective seats in the National Assembly and receiving 89 per cent of the votes cast. The PDM took 11 per cent of the votes but failed to win any of the elective seats. After the nine seats decided by proportional representation had been added, the People’s Party had 33 seats and the PDM one seat in the new National Assembly. Turnout was 74 per cent, down from around 86 per cent in the last three elections.

The Electoral Commission was appointed in August 2011 and the Forum for Electoral Reform – inaugurated in January 2012 with the support of all five registered political parties – embarked on a series of public hearings, with a view to making recommendations on reform of election law.

Head of government

The Hon Danny Faure, President
Mr. Faure was sworn in as President of the Republic of Seychelles on 16th October 2016.