The May 21 2019 presidential elections will be a three-horse race between incumbent President Peter Mutharika, leader of opposition Lazarus Chakwera and State Vice-President Saulos Chilima, an analyst has said.
Governance expert and commentator Makhumbi Munthali cited the recent survey conducted by the Zomba-based Institute of Public Opinion and Research (Ipor) between August and September this year which gave Mutharika a narrow lead.
The survey indicated the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) of Mutharika have 33 percent of the vote, Malawi Congress Party (MCP) of Chakwera has 31 percent and UTM of Chilima had 17 percent while the former governing People's Party (PP) of Joyce Banda got six percent rating.
Munthali said the race for 2019 Tripartite elections remain open for the three top contenders in Mutharika, Chakwera and Chilima. He ruled out former president Joyce Banda rated by the survey as the "most trusted" political leader in the country.
"It is therefore too early to conclude who will win the 2019 Tripartite elections. While is clear at the moment that DPP seems to have an upperhand over MCP and UTM, the political developments that will characterise the period between now to March 2019 will shape who will win the elections," said Munthali.
"At least by early March 2019 we will be able to have a clear picture of the top two presidential candidates with the most chances to win the election. For now, these findings should be an eye opener and awake up call to all political parties on the need to do more if Malawians are to trust them with the high office of the President.," he added.
During the May 20 2014 Tripartite Elections, President Peter Mutharika--standing on the DPP ticket with Chilima as his running mate on the ballot paper--won with 1 904 99 votes, representing 36.4 percent while Chakwera polled 27.8 percent, having amassed 1 455 880. Banda, then an incumbent who had ascended to the presidency in line with constitutional order in April 2012, finished a distant third with 1 056 236 votes or 20.2 percent.
In terms of parliamentary representation, during the 2014 elections DPP won 50 seats, MCP 48, PP 26 and independents 52. Erstwhile governing UDF won 14 seats with Aford and the now-defunct Chipani Cha Pfuko getting one seat each.