Malawi: No Winner in Malawi Presidential Elections Without Majority Vote, Court States

Malawi President Peter Mutharika addresses his supporters during his swearing-in ceremony in Blantyre, May, 28, 2019.
3 February 2020

The Constitutional Court in Malawi has stated that the figures announced by Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) to declare results of the May 2019 presidential elections, none of the candidates were voted truly by majority according to the law.

President Peter Mutharika, MCP leader Lazarus Chakwera and UTM Party president Saulos Chilima: Election dispute to be settled Monday when the Constitutional Court delivers a ruling

President Peter Mutharika was declared winner for a second term with 1.9 million votes representing 38.57%, narrowly ahead of Malawi Congress Party (MCP) presidential hopeful Lazarus Chakwera who came second with 1.8 million votes representing 35.41%.

UTM Party president Saluos Chilima, who was Mutharika's deputy in his first term, came third with just over 1 million votes representing 20.24%.

Reading the court judgement in the petition case by the opposition, Judge Healey Potani, chairing a panel of five judges, ruled that in terms of petitioner's plea on majority votes order, the figures did not meet the majority votes as stipulated in Section 80 which he said was 50 plus one of total votes in terms of several candidates contesting.

The court pointed out that country's current electoral system for presidential elections, the plurality-based First Past the Post (FPTP) system needs reforms and recommend reforming the Presidential and Parliamentary Elections Act (PPEA) that in it's current state it doesn't provide means of handling cases where none of the candidates has a majority vote.

Since the introduction of multiparty politics in Malawi, the FPTP electoral system has been used for the selection of the country's president.

Under these rules, the candidate on the ballot who gets the most votes is duly elected.

Nearly 7 million people registered to vote in an election which was described as the most unpredictable election the country has ever witnessed. About 5 million people turned up for polling. A total of 74,719 votes were declared null and void.

On two another occasions, in 2004 and 2014, the president-elect gathered only about 36 percent of the votes. That is, in the latter elections, altogether 64 percent of the voters selected other candidates and their votes were thus "wasted" (i.e. valid votes that ultimately do count towards the election of a candidate).

Furthermore, the candidates coming in second have received more than 25 percent of voting support in all five elections organised since 1994 and in three of the elections; even the candidate coming in third has gathered support, above 18 percent.

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