Nyasaland general election, 1961

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General elections were held for the Legislative Council in Nyasaland in August 1961. The result was a victory for the Malawi Congress Party, which won all 20 lower roll seats (in five of which they were unopposed)[1] and two of the eight higher roll seats.


Before the elections, the Colonial Office had assumed that the Malawi Congress Party would be entitled to three Executive Council seats through winning a majority of the lower roll seats. As the Lancaster House agreement provided that two Executive Council seats would go to ministers elected from the higher roll, it was thought that the mainly white United Federal Party would gain both these seats. In the event, the United Federal Party only won five seats, two going to Congress and one to an Congress-inclined independent, Colin Cameron. The Governor offered the United Federal Party a single Executive Council seat, which it refused. This left all five elected Executive Council seats available for Congress candidates.[2]

Electoral system[edit]

There were two voter rolls, a lower roll with a predominantly African electorate, which elected 20 members, and had 106,095 registered voters, and a higher roll of largely European and Asian electors, which elected eight members, with 4,337 registered voters. Voter turnout was 91.5% on the lower roll and 85% on the higher roll.[3]


Party Lower roll Higher roll Total seats
Votes % Seats Votes % Seats
Malawi Congress Party 71,659 98.8 20 385 10.3 2 22
United Federal Party 607 0.8 0 2,108 56.6 5 5
Independents 0 1,232 33.0 1 1
Christian Liberation Party 272 0.4 0 0 0
Total 72,538 100 20 3,725 100 8 28
Source: Nohlen et al.


  1. ^ Nohlen, D, Krennerich, M & Thibaut, B (1999) Elections in Africa: A data handbook, p558 ISBN 0-19-829645-2
  2. ^ J McCracken (2012) A History of Malawi, 1859–1966 Woodbridge, James Currey, pp381–52, 403–4, ISBN 978-1-84701-050-6
  3. ^ Malawi: 1961 Legislative Council election results EISA