Malawi elections ‘too close to call’- Afrobarometer survery of 2,400 people

As candidates enter into the last week of campaigning for the top job before May 20 when Malawi chooses a president, a public opinion survey firm AfroBarometer indicates the elections remains “too close to call.”

Afrobarometer, said in their report released on Friday that it conducted a survey of public attitudes on democracy and governance in Malawi from 23 March to 7 April 2014.

It said the nationally representative sample of 2400 adult Malawians was selected to represent all adult citizens of voting age with a margin of sampling error of +/-2% at a 95% confidence level.

“The sample was drawn randomly based on probability proportionate to population size (PPPS), thus taking account of population distributions across regions, rural-urban location, and gender,” it said.afro

The survey firm said face-to-face interviews were conducted in the language of the respondents’ choice.

Among 12 people vying for Malawi’s highest office, four main candidates stand out.

They are President Joyce Banda, Atupele Muluzi of the United Democratic Front (UDF), Peter Mutharika of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and  of the ruling People’s Party (PP)and Lazarus Chakwera of the opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP).

According to Afrobarometer, of the 2,400 people interviewed, DPP “appears to have a slight edge.”

The survey firm said when asked which party’s candidate they would vote for ‘if the presidential elections  were held tomorrow’,  of the 2,400 people 27% identified DPP and its presidential candidate,  74-year-old Peter  Mutharika, 21% identified the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) led by 59-year-old Lazarus Chakwera,  19% identified the People’s Party (PP) of incumbent Joyce Banda, and 14% identified the  United Democratic Front (UDF) under  35-year-old Atupele Muluzi; 15% said they did not know how  they would vote or refused to reveal their preference fully.

The opinion survey report said the choices in the parliamentary election follow the same patterns: DPP is preferred by 23%, MCP and PP by 18% each, and UDF by 11%, with 18% undecided or refusing to reveal their choice; independent candidates are favoured by 8%.

It said 21% have not stated a preference in the local government elections, almost as many as prefer DPP (23%), and more than stated a preference for MCP (18%), PP (16%) or UDF (12%)

Afrobarometer said Malawians in the North “strongly favour” President Banda’s PP, those in the Central Region are” much more inclined to favour” the MCP and candidate Chakwera, while Southerners back Mutharika’s DPP and, “to a lesser extent”, Muluzi’s UDF.

The pollsters state that “nearly one in four Malawians do not predict a winner in the presidential race.”

He report said: “When asked who they think will ultimately win the 2014 presidential election, regardless of their own voting intentions, 24% don’t know or refuse to speculate, while 25% expect the DPP to win; 20% expect Banda and the PP to prevail, while 18% think the MCP has the upper hand, and 11% believe the UDF has the best chances.”

The report has been issued by Carolyn Logan  who is Deputy Director of the Afrobarometer and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at Michigan State University.

Also issuing the report is Michael Brattona University Distinguished Professor of Political Science and African Studies, Michigan State University, and Senior Advisor, Afrobarometer.

Boniface Dulani , the Afrobarometer Operations Manager for Fieldwork, and a Lecturer  in the Department of Political and Administrative Studies at the University of Malawi.

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