Freedom in the World
Tanzania’s political rights rating improved from 4 to 3 due to the more open and competitive nature of national elections held in October 2010.
The October 2010 presidential and legislative elections were considered the most competitive and legitimate in Tanzania’s history. President Jakaya Kikwete of the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party was elected to a second five-year term, and while the CCM retained a majority, the opposition secured its largest representation in parliament. The CCM also narrowly won the presidential election for the semiautonomous island region of Zanzibar and Pemba.
Three years after mainland Tanganyika gained independence from Britain in 1961, the Zanzibar archipelago—consisting of Zanzibar, Pemba, and a number of smaller islands— merged with Tanganyika to become the United Republicof Tanzania. The ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party, under longtime president Julius Nyerere, dominated the country’s political life. Nyerere’s collectivist economic philosophy—known in Swahili as ujaama—promoted a sense of community and nationality, but also resulted in significant economic dislocation and decline. During Nyerere’s tenure, Tanzania played an important role as a “frontline state” in the international response to white-controlled regimes in southern Africa. Nyerere’s successor, Ali Hassan Mwinyi, was president from 1985 to 1995 and oversaw a carefully controlled political liberalization process.
Tanzania is an electoral democracy. The October 2010 national elections were judged to be the most competitive and legitimate in Tanzania’s history. Unlike past elections, the opposition accepted the 2010 results in Zanzibar and Pemba, due in large part to a July referendum providing for the creation of a national unity government after the poll. Executive power rests with the president, who is elected by direct popular vote for a maximum of two five-year terms. Legislative power is held by a unicameral National Assembly, the Bunge, which currently has 357 members serving five-year terms. Of these, 239 are directly elected in single-seat constituencies; 102 are women chosen by the political parties according to their representation in the Bunge; 10 are appointed by the president; 1 is awarded to the Attorney General; and 5 are members of the Zanzibar legislature, whose 50 deputies are elected to five-year terms.