Mind the Deadweight Loss: In Search for an Acceptable Electoral System in Malawi’s Nascent Democracy
Journal of Political Science and International Relations
Volume 1, Issue 4, December 2018, Pages: 72-78
Received: Aug. 7, 2018; Accepted: Aug. 24, 2018; Published: Feb. 26, 2019
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Richard Zidana, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Institute (SMEDI), Lilongwe, Malawi
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There has been escalating debate amongst electoral stakeholders in Malawi agitating for change of the prevailing electoral laws to accommodate an electoral system that produces more legitimate candidates and outcomes – voted by the majority of electorate - especially at presidential election level. The aim of this paper was, therefore, to investigate and argue as to whether electoral system change is a solution in itself. The study advances the argument to the effect that before changing prevailing electoral systems (especially in a jurisdiction like Malawi where First-Past-the-Post is applied), greater caution should be taken since the extent to which a particular electoral system can be deemed and declared effective may vary from one democracy to another depending on varying societal factors. To illustrate the argument, the methodology used involved the analysis of Malawi’s voting dynamics since 1994. The main variables of analysis and discussion included the seemingly-entrenched regional pattern of voting as well as observable voter apathy records during the previous elections. Based on the observed trends, a hypothetical case was constructed to depict likely outcomes and how such outcomes run the risk of not adding any value over and above the outcomes obtained by maintaining the current electoral system. A review of election results over the years was conducted in order to inform the discussion and conclusion of this paper. The result of the analysis has concluded that in the absence of a thoughtful roll-out strategy prior to adoption of an unfamiliar electoral system to most Malawians; and in the midst of low civic and voter education practices, voter apathy, politics of regionalism, among others, two round systems run the risk of producing sub-optimal outcomes that may not in any way present an upgrade or improve the legitimacy and acceptability of elected governments and/or candidates.
Deadweight Loss, Two Round System, Malawi, Electoral Systems
To cite this article
Richard Zidana, Mind the Deadweight Loss: In Search for an Acceptable Electoral System in Malawi’s Nascent Democracy, Journal of Political Science and International Relations. Vol. 1, No. 4, 2018, pp. 72-78. doi: 10.11648/j.jpsir.20180104.11
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