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Madagascar votes in crowded presidential election

By Nicholas Sakelaris
Madagascar votes in crowded presidential election
Political candidate Andry Rajoelina votes Wednesday in Madagascar's presidential election in Antananarivo, Madagascar. Photo by Henitsoa Rafalia/EPA-EFE

Nov. 7 (UPI) -- Madagascar is voting for its next president Wednesday.

Three dozen candidates are on the presidential ballot. The list includes four former prime ministers, three former presidents, a pastor and a rock star.

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The front-runners in the race are incumbent Hery Rajaonarimampianina and former presidents Marc Ravalomanana and Andry Rajoelina.

Rajaonarimampianina has tried to amend election laws, which drew protests from opponents who said he's trying to discourage others from running.

With so many candidates on an island of 25 million people, it will be hard for any of them to aggregate the interests of the majority of voters, Malagasy political expert Adrien Ratsimbaharison said.

"This high number of candidates is due to the fragmentation of the Malagasy society: There are traditionally about 18 or so ethnic groups," Ratsimbaharison said. "So each candidate is representing some group and some interests.

"Many of them almost run just to be famous, and some are running so that they can negotiate a ministerial position with the eventual winner."

The world's fourth-largest island is located off Africa's east coast in the Indian Ocean.

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