There is nothing, so far, to stop Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) from conducting fresh presidential elections as ordered by the February 3 judgement of the Constitutional Court.
As we stand, COVID-19 or not, Malawians are going to the polls within the 150 days given by the court in February.
The question, then, is: Who, among the hopefuls, looks probable to make it to State House?
There are two dimensions to this question.
One, if each of the four main political parties—DPP, MCP, UDF and UTM—choose to stand on their own, the fresh elections result will likely tilt towards the governing DPP of incumbent President Peter Mutharika.
DPP has one strength: It has a loyal and an unshaken base in the populous Llomwe belt.
Further, judging from how the party has been in the past three general elections, it is clear that DPP is better represented in all other districts.
If Malawi Congress Party (MCP) presidential hopeful Lazraus Chakwera goes alone, he will lose again because of one reason: MCP solely relies on the central region vote which, over years, has suffered serious encroachment from other parties, especially UTM.
UTM and its leader the country’s estranged Vice-president Saulos Chilima, on its own, cannot make it. It doesn’t have a political base to point; it relies on swing voters and it would take a miracle to dismantle MCP or DPP from their strongholds.
There is no word of hope that can be expressed about UDF to win on its own though it still commands support in the eastern region. The yellow party os relegated to sympathy of other party’s considerations. So, on it’s own, UDF should brace for another rock bottom but they can be kingmakers or spoilers.
The second dimension is when these parties should to go the alliance route.
Currently, there are two probable alliances: the less loose DPP/UDF alliance and the more loose MCP/UTM with other partners.
What we know, as of now, is that MCP is in alliance with UTM; and DPP is in alliance with UDF.
What we don’t know is how these alliances will play out, fundamentally, in the critical area of who will be the President and who will be the Vice President.
With DPP/UDF alliance, we know President Peter Mutharika will lead—on the Vice, not yet known who he will pick as running mate.
With UTM/MCP alliance, all we know is that they are together but no word, until now, has been given regards who to lead it.
But assuming these alliances work, which one looks sexy to get to Sanjika?
The DPP/UDF alliance has a strength of controlling the best part of Southern Region, the countries’ most populous region – the winning battle ground.
They will just need few votes from Central and Northern regions to patch up the votes that can be taken away from them in their Southern Region base.
But DPP really need UDF to pull through. To mean, in an event where UDF dejects from the alliance, DPP’s strength will be heavily affected.
The MCP/UTM alliance, plus seven other parties, is quite a force to reckon with on paper. MCP has a blessing of a giant central region block which, arguably, represents about 80 percent of their trusted and intact votes.
Added to that, if we take it from the nullified 2019 elections, UTM did quite well in some central region districts but did extremely well in the north.
To mean, the combination of these two parties, add former president Joyce Banda’s PP in the fold, makes MCP/UTM alliance best contenders of State House.
But this alliance suffers from two major defects. One, no party between the two can make it on its own. Two, the alliance still doesn’t have a clear direction—no leader so far.
The question of who will lead this alliance is quite critical, in tones of make or break, as it will both: energize and frustrate some. How this leadership question is handled is where the future of this alliance rests.
Arguably, as it stands, if all the major four parties chooses to go alone into the fresh polls, I argue that DPP will carry the day.
However, if alliances comes to play, UTM/MCP alliance stands a better chance though, a slight leadership squabble in this camp can complicate their winning chance and sale it to DPP/UDF.
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