No new voters:

Malawi’s fate is up to registered voters of 2019

The Supreme Court’s decision that the fresh elections be conducted using the same voters roll as used in May 2019 has disenfranchised scores of potential voters who will now be forced to watch from the sidelines as electoral history is made. To some analysts, the use of the last voters roll works in favor of President Mutharika, as the current voter registration process had become a source of contestation. Alliances such as the MCP-UTM have been forged based on simplistic numerical permutations, which presume that the same voters who cast their votes in May 2019 will behave exactly the same way this time around – for instance it seems to be taken for granted that those who preferred Dr Chilima will be easily persuaded to cast their vote for Reverend Chakwera.

Voting is not driven by logic but by emotions. The MCP-UTM alliance does not guarantee that there will be sufficient emotional transference from pro-Chilima voters to advance Chakwera’s electoral cause. Contrary to laymen views that have simply added the figures and assumed that if a rerun is held then all UTM voters will automatically vote for MCP. This analysis is devoid of historical context of Malawi politics, which is both tribal and regional in nature. The largest support base for UTM is in the North, which has a small number of registered voters compared to Central, and Southern Region. The reality is many might choose to not to vote than being in alliance with MCP. Having all the candidates in the previous election on the ballot means the alliances made have to be creative in how they campaign. Will they encourage their supporters not to vote for them and vote for whoever they have partnered with? For UDF and DPP this will not be difficult as these are natural allies based on their historical context. For DPP-UDF alliance the nostalgia of their past together and the united front could bolster the numbers, but the likelihood of any Presidential candidate getting 50+1 in the first round is slim given how close the race was in 2019.

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