Ivory Coast Table of Contents
As serious as these challenges appeared, processes were in place to lessen their impact. For example, the political system loosened perceptibly as opponents of HouphouŽt-Boigny were co-opted and as the ruling elite's interests in the status quo became more deeply entrenched. By the late 1980s, there were mechanisms--if only rudimentary--for publicly registering disagreement. In 1980, for the first time, HouphouŽt-Boigny permitted open elections to the National Assembly. Voters promptly replaced sixty-three of the ninety incumbents seeking reelection. In 1985 open elections were expanded to include local party and municipal offices as well as assembly seats. (That time, voters rejected 90 of 117 candidates seeking reelection to the National Assembly.) Other avenues for expressing dissent also opened. In 1987 the state began broadcasting two controversial and popular shows: one featured political debate, albeit over carefully limited questions; and the other, political satire. Observers construed those measures as part of a continuing if cautious process leading to a more mature, democratic political culture. Moreover, the government appeared at least to have the support of important opinion makers. In contrast to the populations of all of its West African neighbors who, in a mid-1970s poll taken of its readers by Jeune Afrique, preferred an ambiguous socialism for their economic future, almost 50 percent of the magazine's Ivoirian readers--who were probably on the left of the political spectrum--favored an equally ambiguous capitalism.
Data as of November 1988