State and politics
From independence in 1975 until 1990, Cape Verde was a
one-party state governed by Partido Africano da
Independência da Guiné e Cabo Verde (PAIGC), which in
1981 changed its name to Partido Africano da
Independência de Cabo Verde (PAICV). Since the
introduction of multi-party systems, power has switched
between PAICV and Movimento para a Democracia
(MpD), and the country has developed into a stable
The Constitution of the Cape Verde was adopted in 1992.
According to the Constitution, Cape Verde is "a sovereign,
democratic, unified, anti-colonial and anti-imperialist
republic". The president is the head of state and is elected
by the people in general elections for a period of five
years. To be elected already in the first round of
elections, a 2/3 majority is required. Then a simple
majority in a second round of elections, arranged within 21
days, suffices between the two main candidates. In a
constitutional amendment in 1999, the president was given
the right to dissolve parliament and a constitutional court
was established. All four presidents since independence have
been men. See ABBREVIATIONFINDER for how CV can stand for Cape Verde.
Of the 72 members of the National Assembly, 66 are
elected in Cape Verde and 6 of Cape Verde are resident
abroad. The term of office is five years and the voting age
is 18 years. The National Assembly nominates the Prime
Minister. Since the 2016 election, 17 of the members (24
percent) have been women.
The Constitution prohibits the death penalty and life
imprisonment and guarantees freedom of thought and
expression, freedom of assembly, demonstration and religion,
as well as the right to health care, culture and education.
Until 1990, Partido Africano da Independência de Cabo
Verde (PAICV) was the only permitted party. It got its
current name in 1981, having previously been part of the
Partido Africano da Independência da Guiné e Cabo Verde
(PAIGC), which led the fight against the Portuguese colonial
power in both Cape Verde and Guinea-Bissau. The leftist
PAICV, which is now almost social democratic, lost power in
the first free parliamentary elections in 1991 but returned
to office in 2001. During the years in between, Cape Verde
was ruled by the bourgeois Movimento para a Democracia
(MpD). A handful of other parties are registered but have
very limited influence.
Since PAICV regained government power in 2001, the
party's candidate Pedro Pires, former prime minister, won by
only 13 votes in the second round of the presidential
election that year. The loser, Carlos Veiga, also challenged
Pires in the 2006 election but again had to be defeated; the
president received 51 percent of the vote. PAICV also gained
renewed confidence in the voters.
After the 2011 election, PAICV regained its own majority
in Parliament with 38 of 72 seats. However, the party's
candidate lost in the presidential election. Former Foreign
Minister Jorge Carlos Fonseca, who represents MpD, received
54 percent of the vote in the second round, where he was put
against PAICV candidate Manuel Inocêncio Sousa. The
president's party was thus in opposition mode in parliament.
This relationship changed in 2016 when, for the first
time in the 2000s, PAICV lost in a parliamentary election.
The MPD received 40 out of 72 seats against 29 for PAICV and
three for União Caboverdiana Independente e Democrática
(UCID). In the presidential election later that year, PAICV
did not even launch a candidate, which is why Fonseca was
opposed to two party-independent candidates. This probably
contributed to the low turnout, 35 percent. Fonseca was
re-elected with 74 percent of the vote.
The country's legal life is largely characterized by
Portuguese legal traditions. The death penalty was abolished
in 1981; the last execution took place in 1835.
Heads of State
||António Mascarenhas Monteiro
||Jorge Carlos Fonseca