Niger - Political parties

Parties emerged only after World War II. In 1946, the African Democratic Rally (Rassemblement Démocratique Africain— RDA) became dominant with the help of several labor unions. By 1948, its popularity waned, and the Niger Progressive Party (Parti Progressiste Nigérien or PPN), the local branch of the RDA, was unable to reelect its candidate to the French National Assembly. Meanwhile, other parties, based on regional interests, gained strength.

In 1957, Djibo Bakary, the leader of a dissident RDA group, helped form a socialist party that became known as the Party of the African Regrouping (Parti du regroupement africain or PRA). Branches were quickly established in most of the other French-African territories.

Shortly before the voting on the French constitution in September 1958, the PPN joined with chiefs and dissident PRA members to form a coalition, the Union for the Franco-African Community (Union pour la Communauté Franco-Africaine), led by Hamani Diori, leader of the PPN. On 14 December 1958, the PRA group (known as the Sawaba), led by Djibo Bakary, was defeated by the new coalition, which won 54 of the 60 seats in the Assembly. The new Assembly for an autonomous Republic of the Niger within the French Community. Diori became president of the General Council, and following full independence, president of the republic. Diori consolidated the position of the PPN by allying himself with Niger's powerful Muslim traditional chiefs, exiling Bakary, and banning the Sawaba in 1959. In 1964 and 1965, Bakary organized attacks from abroad on Diori's life.

The PPN became the only legal party under the Diori regime. In the October 1970 elections, Diori won 99.98% of the votes cast, and the PPN won 97.09% of the votes cast for the National Assembly. After the coup of 15 April 1974, the military government suppressed all political organizations in the country. Both Diori and Bakary (who returned from exile) were imprisoned until 1980.

In 1989, Seybou created the National Movement for a Developmental Society (MNSD). The MNSD was intended to be the sole legal party, but the constitutional referendum of December 1992 authorized a multiple party system. In the legislative elections on 12 January 1995 some 774 candidates ran for 83 Assembly seats. The MNSD won a slight majority (29 seats) and formed a coalition with the Democratic and Social Convention or CDS (24 seats). The coalition was factious, and in January 1996, leaders of a military coup dissolved the Assembly, overthrew the president, and banned political parties. Following the approval of a new constitution in May, political parties once again were allowed to exist.

In flawed presidential elections in July 1996, Baré Maïnassara took 52.22%, Mahamane Ousmane 19.75%, Mamadou Tandja 15.65%, and two other candidates took the remaining 12% of the vote. Legislative elections were held again in November 1996 for the reinstated 83-seat National Assembly. The pro-Maïnassara National Independents Union for Democratic Renewal (Union Nationale des Independents pour la renoveau democratique or UNIRD) won 52 seats, the Nigerian Alliance for Democracy and Progress-Zaman (ANDPS-Zaman Lahiya) 8, Union of Patriots, Democrats, and Progressives (Union des Patriotes Démocratiques et progressistes or UPDP-Shamuwa) 4, Union for Democracy and Social Progress (Union pour la démocratie et le progrès social or UDPS-Amana) 3, coalition of independents 3, with the remaining 6 seats divided among three other parties.

In the October–November 1999 presidential elections, Mamadou Tandja won convincingly with 32.3% on the first round and 59.9% on the second. Mahamadou Issoufou (Nigerien Party for Democracy and Socialism—PNDS) came in second with 22.8% and 40.1%. The others were Mahamane Ousmane (CDS) with 22.5%, Hamid Algabid (Rally for Democracy and Progress or Rassemblement pour la Démocratie et le Progrès—RDP) with 10.9%, Mumouni Djermakoye Amadou (ANDP) with 7.7%, Andre Salifou (UDPD) with 2.1% and Amadou Ali Djibo (Union des Nigériens Indépendants or Union of Independent Nigerians— UNI) with 1.7% of the vote.

A new political landscape emerged after the elections. The CDS of former president, Ousmane, rallied behind the MNSD to catapult Tandja and the MNSD to victory in the 24 November second round. Formerly, the CDS was pitted against the MNSD as part of the Alliance du Changement (AC) in the multiparty elections of 1991. Ousmane and Tandja were sworn enemies until General Baré's coup ousted Ousmane in 1996. The coup threw the CDS and the MNSD into the opposition, and made them both members of the umbrella alliance, the Front pour la Restauration et Défense de la Démocratie (FRDD) to compete in the elections in November 1996. The FRDD had comprised eight parties including the MNSD the CDS, and Issoufou's party, the Parti Nigerien pour la Démocratie et le Socialisme (PNDS).

In the National Assembly elected on 24 November 1999, 5 of 19 contending parties won seats. The MNSD took 38 of 83 seats, the CDS 17, the PNDS 16, the RDP 8, and the ANDP 4. Thus, the MNSD-CDS coalition had 55 of 83 seats. With its 16 seats, Issoufou's PNDS took leadership of the opposition coalition. The main allies of the opposition were the RDP and the ANDP bringing the coalition to 30 seats. The next elections for the National Assembly are due in November 2004.

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