Malawi gets hung parliament
The Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) has announced the result of the election to the 192 seat National Assembly.
The results leave the country with a hung parliament where independents are likely to be the deciding factor in the formation of a new government. With 97 seats needed for a majority, the party of newly elected President Peter Mutharika, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) won just 50 seats, down from 114 seats in 2009.
The Malawi Congress Party (MCP) came second with 48 seats (+22) and former President Joyce Banda’s People’s Party (PP) won 26 seats (+26). The United Democratic Front (UDF) dropped three seats to 14 seats with two small parties, the Alliance for Democracy (AFORD) and Chipani Cha Fuko (CCP) taking a seat each.
Independents won 52 seats up from 32 seats in 2009, giving the president the potential to find allies within their ranks.
President Peter Mutharika (74) is expected to announce his Cabinet later this week. He said in his inaugural speech that he intended to reduce the Cabinet to 20 members; there were 36 ministers in the former President Banda’s Cabinet. Mutharika made it plain that he would also enforce Section 65 of the Constitution after the government was formed; this prohibits defections to other parties. The practice is often referred to as ‘floor crossing’ and in Malawi has frequently been done for personal reward rather than ideological reasons.
The new President has told the West, the country’s traditional donor base, that he will be looking for “new friends” in countries such as Russia and China. The Nyasa Times reports the President as saying “We will continue with traditional relationships, but we are now looking for new friends in emerging economies such as Brazil, China, India, South Africa and Russia”.