African Journal of
Political Science and International Relations

  • Abbreviation: Afr. J. Pol. Sci. Int. Relat.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 1996-0832
  • DOI: 10.5897/AJPSIR
  • Start Year: 2007
  • Published Articles: 403

Full Length Research Paper

The performance of the Malawi Congress Party in general elections: The role of sectionalism of a regional and ethnic nature

Collins Greenwell Matchaya
Box 30088, Lilongwe, Malawi. 
Email: [email protected]

  •  Accepted: 17 May 2010
  •  Published: 30 June 2010


In this article, an attempt has been made to explain the performance of the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) in the general elections by focusing mainly on the 2009 presidential and parliamentary elections in which the MCP lost overwhelmingly. Specifically, the role of sectionalism of a regional and ethnic nature on the MCP’s national level performance was examined. Different kinds of data from the Malawi electoral commission and news media are used in the analysis.  Descriptive statistics are used to summarise the effects of different factors on the party’s share of votes. It is found that a complex combination of factors such as district and regional sizes, education level of voters as proxied by district and regional level data, party level policies and organisation, incumbency, campaign expenditure, individual leaders personal characters and past legacy, party conduct in parliament among others, may explain the MCP’s 2009 defeat. The findings may be considered as broad guidelines along which efforts to reinvigorate the party may be galvanised.


Key words: Democracy consolidation, Malawi Congress Party, general elections.