Seychellois presidential elections were held between 3 and 5 December 2015.
In the first round no candidate received more than 50% of the vote and a second round was held between 16 and 18 December. This was the first time there was a run-off presidential election as since the establishment of the Third Republic the ruling party has won every single presidential election in the first round. Finally, incumbent James Michel won the run-off vote securing 50.2% of the vote. President James Michel has stressed several times the importance of the political participation of women: “…in Seychelles, the women empowerment story is a success story. Seychelles has built itself on people-centred development and gender equality is a cornerstone of this philosophy”.
In Seychelles, the President is elected by absolute majority through universal adult franchise. Parliamentary and presidential elections are held every 5 years but not necessarily concurrently.
Women’s political participation
Although there is still no data regarding the 2015 presidential elections, the Inter-Parliamentary Union has ranked Seychelles the 5th highest country in the world according to the proportion of women in national parliament. In addition, Seychelles is ranked second out of 52 African countries for gender equality.
Seychelles society is said to be matriarchal with the women wielding great influence in the home and in the public sphere. Furthermore, there are no legal barriers to women’s participation in political, economic and social activities. Since the drafting of the state party report for CEDAW, Seychelles has witnessed the nomination of more women into senior leadership roles in government and the President has already made and continues to make efforts to nominate more women into high level leadership posts.
However, domestic violence remains a problem. Records have shown that women remain the vast majority of victims of domestic violence as many as 1 in 4 women have experience some form of physical violence perpetrated by an intimate partner at some point in their life. In 2008 Seychelles launched a National Strategy on Domestic Violence and in 2010 a National Plan of Action on Gender Based Violence.
Seychelles has made a great progress in promoting women’s rights. It has become one of the leading countries on women representation in politics at a time when most countries in the region seem to have regressed in this area.