Kagame's Rwanda election win is one of recent history's most lopsided

Preliminary results show that President Paul Kagame is likely to win more than 90 percent of the vote.

Marc Hofer/AP
Rwandan president Paul Kagame casts his vote at the Echo Ruganga School in central Kigali, Aug. 9.

The official tally may still take a few days, but with one-third of the votes counted in Monday's Rwanda election, President Paul Kagame has won 92.9 percent of the vote.

If the final result is something similar – which most observers expect it will be, given that the top opposition candidates have been prevented from running – Mr. Kagame's presidential win will be among the most lopsided in recent history.

And that's saying something, because the world has seen some landslide victories in recent years.

IN PICTURES: World's most lopsided presidential victories

Just last week, for instance, Colombia's conservative Juan Manuel Santos took office after having won the presidential run-off with 69 percent of the vote. That healthy win parallels that of his ideological rival next door, Hugo Chávez, who won Venezuela's last presidential election in 2006 with almost 63 percent of the vote.

Such margins would be unthinkable in the US, where 55 percent would be considered the landslide to end all landslides. But many recent free and fair elections around the world have been won by candidates who have garnered more than 60 percent of the vote.

It's when you get into victories won with more than 80 percent of the vote that the democracy starts to look a little less than healthy.

Take, for example, Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko, who won the 2006 election in his tiny Eastern European country with 82.6 percent of vote. He's often called "Europe's last dictator."

Or Turkmenistan's leader Gurbanguly Berdihumahmedow, who won with 89.2 percent of the vote after succeeding the eccentric post-Soviet dictator Saparmurat Niyazov, a man famous for naming months after himself, placing a rotating, gold-plated statue of himself in the middle of the capital city, and calling himself "the "Father of all Turkmen."

None of that country’s elections since it gained independence after the Soviet Union's 1991 collapse have been considered free or fair.

The granddaddy of eye-catching electoral victories may be former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, who won a 2002 referendum on whether he should have a new term with a solid 100 percent of the vote. It was an improvement on the 1995 referendum, in which he won 99 percent of the vote.

Those countries rank near the bottom of Freedom House's list of countries that are "not free," and surely Rwanda will not be happy to be lumped in with such company.

But Kagame's victory is not unprecedented. In 2005, he won with more than 95 percent of the vote.

IN PICTURES: World's most lopsided presidential victories

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