As Malawi draws closer to its first tripartite election in 2014, political analysts have called on political parties to consider entering into alliances to avoid splitting the presidential vote.
But in interviews this week, major political parties expressed confidence to contest single-handedly in the elections that are 15 months away.
According to a political scientist, Mustafa Hussein, political parties form alliances to avoid the vote-splitting problem—which mostly occurs in first-past-the-post electoral systems—where a candidate with the most votes wins, even if the winner does not have majority support.
“Alliances would work for 2014 elections because there is stiff competition among the parties. You have parties such as DPP, PP and UDF scrambling for the same people in the South. With many parties which seem to have equal strength on the ground, parties will share almost same votes, thus leaving little gap between the winner and the losers as was the case in 2004 [when the winning candidate, late president Bingu wa Mutharika, got about 36 percent of the vote],” he said.
But ruling People’s Party (PP) secretary general Henry Chibwana said the party does not consider an alliance because it has the resources to win the 2014 elections.
“We have the numbers, strength and resources. We heard about alliances in 2004 and 2009. We have staff that we can bring together and win the 2014 elections single-handedly. We are comfortable that we will win,” said Chibwana.
Malawi Congress Party (MCP) administrative secretary Potipher Chidaya said the party will win the elections if the playing field is levelled.
“We can make it if we have equal access to the State radio and television. We are government in waiting and we cannot partner with People’s Party. We want what they are holding. No decision has been made to get into an alliance with any party,” he said, dismissing reports that PP and MCP were in talks to form an alliance.
United Democratic Front (UDF) spokesperson Ken Ndanga also dismissed alliances, saying his party has not discussed such a possibility.
“We cannot commit ourselves to an alliance before realising how strong we are on the ground. We are monitoring things on the ground,” said Ndanga.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) publicity secretary was once quoted saying that his party has not yet discussed the alliance issue, but Peoples Transformation Party president Kamuzu Chibambo said his party would not hesitate to get into an alliance with a party that shares the same ideologies that will deliver to people’s satisfaction.
Chancellor College-based political analyst, Dr. Blessings Chinsinga, accused the parties of not taking the elections seriously.
“Some parties have not settled their internal problems. They are saying no to alliances because they feel they stand better chances because of the current economic situation. Each party thinks it is better and can win. That is nursing their egos,” said Chinsinga.
He said although it is too early for the parties to get into alliances, it was high time they started strategising how to win the elections.
“The danger is that parties form alliances at the eleventh hour driven with no sense of purpose,” he said.
During the 2009 elections, smaller parties formed a grand alliance, which is currently inactive.