The recent referendum in Madagascar to approve several constitutional changes has been approved with a 75% majority. The referendum was called to approve a number of changes to constitution put forward by President Marc Ravalomanana including making English an official language, abolishing Madagascar's six provinces and allowing the President to amend laws in a state of emergency without parliamentary approval.
The opposition parties had campaigned vociferously against the changes that increased the Presidents powers claiming it was leading Madagascar down the path of dictatorship. The Presidents supporters however claimed the changes were necessary to speed up progress in the country through decentralisation of the administration as well as transferring responsibilities to local offices and bringing governance closer to the people.
In defending the adoption of English, officials cite Madagascar's changing external economic relationships as the justification for this, in particular having joined the South African Development Community (SADC) which is overwhelmingly English speaking. Officials also believe the promotion of English will aid direct foreign investment from countries such as the United States, UK, Canada, South Africa and India.