Multiparty democracy was introduced in 1991, but not until the September 2011 elections did power change hands for the second time in Zambia. Here Michael Sata and the Patriotic Front (PF) won Presidency and a slight majority in Parliament, thereby ending 20 years of dominance by the Movement for Multiparty Democracy. The country not only has a new political party in the driver´s seat, but is also undergoing a constitutional review process as a cornerstone for consolidation of democracy in the country.
Zambia held its first democratic elections in 1991. Elections were won by Frederick Chiluba and his party, the Movement for Multi-party Democracy (MMD), replacing the one-party rule of independence leader, Kenneth Kaunda and his United National Independence Party. MMD kept power until 2006 under the leadership of Frederick Chiluba (1991-2001), Levy Mwanawasa (2001-2008) and most recently Rupiah Banda (2008-2011).
The 20 year rule of MMD came to an end in September 2011, when Michael Sata from the Patriotic Front won the Presidential seat with 43 percent to Banda´s 36 percent of the vote. The transfer of power was fairly peaceful, marking the second peaceful transfer of power in Zambia´s democratic history. The political system in Zambia is characterised by executive dominance vis-à-vis the legislature and judiciary. A system, which the Africa Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) characterises as a hybrid between the Westminster system of government inherited from the British colonial rule, and a reformist form of republican system with presidential features.
Zambia is following the September 2011 elections experiencing a “hung Parliament”, where no single party has sufficient seats to pass legislation and the five opposition parties together with the independents hold majority. PF has a slight majority of 60 seats ahead of the opposition parties MMD (55 seats), United Party for National Development (28 seats), Alliance for Democracy and Development (1), Forum for Democracy and Development (1) and independents (3).
Political life is thus marked by a change of scene with MMD in opposition for the first time following the introduction of multiparty democracy, while PF is struggling in the unfamiliar role as governing party. Also the constitutional review process is a key element on the Zambian political agenda.
Following the death of Michael Sata in October 2014, Edgar Lungu from the Patriotic Front won the Presidential seat in January 2015.