Senegalese Democratic Party

Published 10th January, 2012

The Senegalese Democratic Party or PDS was founded in 1974 by Abdoulaye Wade and others. It describes itself as a liberal party.

The party started life as a labour party, but under the laws of the time there were three types of party allowed, a socialist party and a Marxist-Leninist party, both of which were already occupied. So the PDS took up the mantle of the third option, a liberal party, rather than be dissolved.

The party fought its first election in 1978 when it won 18 seats in the 100 seat National Assembly.

In 1983 it dropped to eight seats, but after that started a gradual climb, taking 17 seats in 1988, 27 seats in 1993 and 23 seats in 1998.

The party president, Abdoulaye Wade, started contesting presidential elections in 1978 when he took 17.8% of the vote. Like the party, his popularity grew over the years, dropping slightly in 1983 to 14.79% but then going up to 25.8% of the vote in 1988 and 32.03% in 1993.

Wade’s personal breakthrough came in 2000 when he took the incumbent president, Abdou Diouf, to a second round and won with 58.49% of the vote. In 2007 his vote dropped a little to 55.9%.

Meanwhile the party won the 2001 general election under the heading of the Sopi (“Change”) Coalition. They took 89 of the 120 seats in the National Assembly. Inevitably the coalition enlarged as many smaller parties decided to join and in 2007 the coalition, by then called ‘Sopi 2007’ won 131 of the 150 seats.

The party had two brief flirtations with the ruling Socialist Party of the day, when they joined the government from 1991 to October 1992 and again from 1995 to 1998.

The Senegalese Democratic Party is a member of Liberal International and since 1995 has been associated with the Alliance of Democrats.

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