A recent decree passed by the Malagasy government council, raising the required candidate deposit for the presidential election to 200 million ariary (just over 39,000 euros), has sparked significant controversy.
While some argue that this amount helps filter out frivolous applications, others criticize it as exorbitant, automatically excluding numerous potential candidates. The revised deposit of 200 million ariary is four times higher than that of the previous presidential election in 2018, which had 36 candidates. The government council’s report highlights that this amount had remained unchanged for a decade.
Eliana Bezaza, the National Secretary of the PSD party and a former presidential candidate in 2018 denounces the increase, stating, “In 2018, I already thought the sum was staggering, but now, for me, it is anti-Republican. The definition of a Republic entails equal opportunities for all citizens. In such a poor country, requesting 200 million ariary creates a deep imbalance. Even candidates who could afford the previous 50 million would now face challenges. This deposit requires considerable wealth.”
Government spokesperson and Minister of Communication and Culture, Lalatiana Rakotondrazafy, explains the reasoning behind the increase: “Over the past ten years, the costs of printing single ballots have significantly risen. The deposit is a candidate’s contribution towards these expenses. It is only natural that an upward revision has been made.” She further notes that this contribution is refunded to candidates who secure at least 10% of the votes.
Former head of state and founder of the TIM party, Marc Ravalomanana, who announced his candidacy earlier this month, also expressed his reaction in a video posted on Facebook. He asserts, “The deposit should remain the same as in the previous election. This revision to 200 million ariary violates the law. We demand the holding of the election but will not accept law violations, fraud, or ill intentions. The Ceni must take responsibility for conducting a reliable, transparent, and inclusive election.”
Ravalomanana refers to the Organic Law 2018-009 regarding the presidential election, which states that “in the event of early elections, the amount of the previous contribution should be maintained.” The first round of the presidential election has been rescheduled to take place ten days earlier, with November 9 set for the initial round and December 20 for a potential second round.
The law also stipulates that the contribution amount for candidates “shall be determined by a decree issued by the Government Council upon a proposal from the Independent National Electoral Commission.” When contacted, the president of Ceni declined to comment at this time.