Elections in Malawi and South Africa

May 20, 2019 Weekly Graphs

General elections will be held in both Malawi and South Africa in May 2019. These elections take place in the context of very different electoral histories in each country. 

Both the presidential and parliamentary elections were held in South Africa in 2014. These were widely considered free and fair. The country has a legitimate electoral framework and laws that ensure the elections are free from corruption, fraud and other types of electoral anomalies. The current dominant party, the ANC (African National Congress), has won every election since 1994. However, the party’s support has declined in the three previous elections due to corruption accusations. 

The last general elections were held in Malawi in 2014. The election was criticized for being plagued by bribery, corruption, and vote rigging. The country’s electoral commission acknowledged evidence of electoral anomalies. Elections in Malawi have been regularly afflicted with problems since their first competitive elections in 1994. The management of elections has been regarded as poor due to issues concerning election cheating and corruption among the ruling elite. 

The V-Dem’s Variable Graph tool, illustrates the difference in the cleanliness elections in these two countries since 1994. The indicator, clean election, captures the extent to which elections are free and fair. It is measured from 0 to 1, with 0 indicating a low level of free and fair elections, and 1, a high level of free and fair elections. The elections in South Africa in 1994 were plagued by extensive problems due to poor management. As seen in the graph, the quality of elections has improved since then. Misuse of state funds and registration problems during the 1999 elections in Malawi is reflected in a dip in the country’s graph in 1999, and the country has not yet been able to return to the pre-1999 level. 

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