The opposition MCP-UTM alliance has potential to win the upcoming fresh presidential election, according to a survey by Afrobarometer.
Part of an Afrobarometer report released this week shows the opposition Tonse Alliance of Malawi Congress Party (MCP), UTM Party, People’s Party (PP), Umodzi Party, Petra, Freedom Party, PPM, Alliance for Democracy (Aford) and Mafunde have a massive chance of winning the fresh election.
The partnership between governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and United Democratic Front (UDF) led by President Peter Mutharika is predicted to come second, according to combined figures of the two parties.
Afrobarometer is a pan-African, independent, non-partisan research network that measures public attitudes on economic, political, and social matters in Africa.
The survey, conducted in November last year by their regional partner and local think-tank, Centre for Social Research based in Zomba, covered a wide range of electoral topics following May 21 2019 disputed elections.
Among others, the survey asked people’s perceptions of the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) and who would they vote for if elections were held today. It did not specifically ask respondents on the question of alliances.
On the question: ‘If the presidential elections were held tomorrow, which candidate or party would you vote for?’ A total of 32.3 percent of the respondents said they would vote for DPP while 31.7 percent said they would vote for MCP and 12 percent said they would vote for UTM.
UDF had 1.6 percent of the vote while PP and Aford, which are now part of Tonse Alliance, vote each.registered 0.1 percent of the
Five percent of the respondents said they would not vote—providing an incentive to the parties to campaign hard to convince them while 5.8 percent were undecided.
When combined, the scores of each party polled show a potential opposition victory.
In an interview on Friday, one of Afrobarometer lead researchers, Joseph Chunga, however, observed that the poll was conducted in November 2019, before the formation of alliances.
He said: “The results explain people’s preferences if the vote was conducted then. It doesn’t reflect on the alliances as they were not formed then.”
DPP spokesperson Nicholas Dausi on Friday said the results of the poll indicate that the ruling party remains popular than any other party.
He said: “What is interesting is that among all the parties DPP is still number one. And we wouldn’t mind winning even with just a single percentage as long as it’s a victory.
“When there are alliances, the voting patterns change. People who didn’t vote are eager to vote now. You go to Lilongwe City, people who lost property and were beaten are all eager to vote now.”
On his part, MCP publicity secretary the Reverend Maurice Munthali said the alliance gives the opposition party an edge, but pointed out that the grouping will not be complacent.
“We appreciate that it [the survey] was done several months ago; in politics, seven months is a long period. We appreciate that Afrobarometer is credible, but the figures might be stale now.
“At that time that could have been the reality but things have changed and for us, things have changed for the better,” he said.
Political scientist Henry Chingaipe also cautioned about reading too much into the survey.
“A lot of changes have happened on the political scene that could potentially swing the voting patterns,” he said.