MPs cast off 50%+1 System

Simple majority for parliamentary, local government elections


Parliament Tuesday unanimously passed a bill to amend the Parliamentary and Presidential Elections Act (PPEA) to cement 50 percent plus one as the way of electing a President and the First-past-the-post system for lawmakers and Ward Councillors.

If assented to by President Lazarus Chakwera, the bill, which was brought to the House by Justice Minister Titus Mvalo, will in effect, defeat the decision by the Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) to extend the 50 percent plus one method to the election of MPs and councillors.

Mvalo said the objective of the bill was to amend the PPEA to provide clarification on the threshold required for the election of the person to the office of the President and office of the member of the National Assembly.


The bill has amended Section 96 of the PPEA by deleting subsection 5 and replacing it with a new subsection.

Reads the new subsection: “Subject to the Constitution and this Act, in any election (a) the candidate for election to the office of the President who obtains the majority of more than 50 percent of the valid votes cast at the poll; and (b) the candidate for the election as a member of National Assembly who obtains the greatest number of valid votes cast at the poll, shall be declared by the commission to have been duly elected.”

Mvalo said adopting a first-past-the-post method for electing MPs would help the country to save money by avoiding many election reruns which could arise where no ultimate winners are identified in parliamentary polls.


Democratic Progressive Party spokesperson on legal matters, Bright Msaka, said the proposal by Mec to extend 50 percent plus one to the election of MPs was unfortunate. Msaka said unlike the President who has executive powers, it would be unfair to subject lawmakers to the 50 percent plus one system.

Thyolo Central MP Ben Phiri described the decision by Parliament as crucial in setting the records straight on how Presidents and lawmakers should be elected in the country.

On his part, Mulanje Bale lawmaker, Victor Musowa, said had it been that Malawi had plenty of financial resources, he would have opted for 50 percent plus one as a way of electing MPs.

“If I were given the opportunity, I would say allow 10 of us to go back and try this law and see how many of us would come back,” Musowa said, adding that the PPEA amendment would to help save money of government as well as the competitors.

Mec last week opened a can of worms when it indicated that it would use the 50 percent plus one majority to determine the winner of the each of the three by-elections slated for November 10 this year.

The commission said it was simply following the interpretation of ‘majority’ by the courts to mean 50 percent plus one.

Some stakeholders viewed Mec’s position as a deliberate attempt to prod the lawmakers to ‘regularise’ the election systems in terms of a President, MP and Ward Councillor.

Meanwhile, the lawmakers have overwhelmingly passed a Constitutional Amendment Bill which, among others, proposed an extension of life span of the current crop of parliamentarians and Ward Councillors from five to six years so that the next tripartite elections should be held in 2025.

Out of 162 MPs present in the House, a total of 161 voted in favour of the bill while one voted against the bill. The amendment also sought to bring clarity on the appointing authority of the chairperson of the Malawi Electoral Commission.

The constitutional amendment also proposed that the President and vice-president should be sworn in between seven and 30 days after their election to address issues as well as to provide for more time to prepare for the swearing-in ceremony.

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