Fish market in Saint Louis, Senegal

Political situation Broad development programme

Senegal is a presidential democracy. Its constitution and legal system are closely modelled on the French system. In May 2019, the president, whose position had been strong even before, was vested with further powers. The office of prime minister was eliminated through a constitutional amendment. In late 2021, it was reintroduced, however, the post was not filled until September 2022 following the parliamentary elections.

In 2012, Macky Sall was elected President of the country; he was confirmed in office in 2019. At the parliamentary elections in 2022, however, the coalition government under his leadership lost the absolute majority of seats in the National Assembly.

In spring 2021, there was unrest in Senegal during which ten people died and a considerable number of people were injured. The unrest was triggered by the arrest of an opposition leader. In the run-up to the parliamentary elections in 2022, the government also opted for confrontation. The list of candidates of a coalition of opposition parties was declared invalid and demonstrations of opposition parties were banned, for example. The election losses the government suffered were proof of people’s growing dissatisfaction. The young generation, in particular, suffers from a lack of income and prospects.

After the conviction of an opposition leader in spring 2023 unrest flared up again, leaving several people dead. The possibility of President Sall running for a third term is also increasingly mobilising the young generation and the political opposition – more internal tensions can be expected.

Senegal has a dynamic civil society and a diverse media landscape which monitor government actions critically. Government policies focus on implementing a comprehensive programme for the country's economic and social development in the period up to 2035 (Plan Sénégal Emergent). Its key goals are economic stability, lower unemployment, a stronger private sector (with a special focus on fostering SMEs), and infrastructure development.

Casamance conflict

Senegal's land area almost completely encloses its relatively small neighbour Gambia, which, like a wedge, divides Senegal into a northern part and a smaller southern part. In the southern region, Casamance, political and economic isolation has led to the emergence of an independence movement. Over three decades, there were repeated violent clashes, until a cease-fire was agreed in 2012. In spring and autumn 2022, there was more military action against rebel groups in the region.

Foreign policy

The Senegalese government pursues an active, stabilising foreign policy, both within the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and within the African Union and the United Nations. Senegal has acted as a mediator in regional conflicts and is an important provider of troops for UN peace missions.

As at: 22/06/2023