On December 11, only about 37% of registered voters turned out to vote in the Ivory Coast’s first legislative elections in a decade. The low turnout, compared to the 80% that voted in the November 10 presidential elections, suggests that Ivorians have become apathetic. The opposition boycotted the elections while the country’s fragile electoral machinery has come under continuous scathing criticism. In fact, the only people who benefited from the public apathy are President Allasane Ouattara and his allies from the Rally of the Republicans (RDR), the Republican Forces (FRCI) and the Democratic Party of Cote d’Ivoire (PDCI).
The RDR won just under half the 255-member legislature and the PDCI garnered 93 seats. Having boosted Ouattara’s political leverage, the legislative elections could further entrench the ‘winner takes all’ politics that have come to characterise Ivorian society since the rule of the country’s former strongman Félix Houphouët-Boigny. The implications of this increased isolation are particularly ominous given the fact that the country is barely recovering from civil war and electoral violence that have worsened the country’s tribal and regional divisions.