1988 Zambian general election

General elections were held in Zambia on 26 October 1988. At the time, the country was a one-party state with the United National Independence Party (UNIP) as the sole legal party. UNIP leader Kenneth Kaunda was automatically re-elected for a sixth five-year term as President with 95.5% of the vote, whilst UNIP also won all 125 seats in the National Assembly.[1] Voter turnout was around 60% in the parliamentary elections,[2] but 58.8% in the presidential elections.[3]

1988 Zambian general election

← 1983 26 October 1988 1991 →
  Kenneth Kaunda 1983-03-30.jpg
Nominee Kenneth Kaunda
Party UNIP
Popular vote 1,414,000
Percentage 95.5%

President before election

Kenneth Kaunda

Elected President

Kenneth Kaunda

Two years later UNIP was forced to give up its monopoly of power as part of an agreement with the opposition. The next elections had been scheduled for 1993, but snap elections were called in 1991 as a result of the agreement.


Prior to the elections, primary elections were held to elect candidates for the 125 constituencies. Only UNIP members could vote in the primaries, and the top three candidates would be able to stand for the National Assembly election.[4] In total, 706 people stood for election to the National Assembly, of which 612 were approved by the UNIP central committee.[2]



Kaunda was the sole candidate for president, and voters voted yes or no to his candidacy.

Choice Votes %
Yes 1,414,000 95.5
No 67,000 4.5
Invalid/blank votes 48,000
Total 1,529,000 100
Registered voters/turnout 2,600,000 58.8
Source: Nohlen et al.

National AssemblyEdit

Party Votes % Seats +/–
United National Independence Party 100 125 0
Presidential appointees 10 0
Appointed Speaker 1 0
Invalid/blank votes
Total 100 136 0
Registered voters/turnout 2,600,000
Source: African Elections Database


Following protests, riots and an attempted coup in 1990, the constitution was amended to allow other parties to challenge UNIP in the 1991 elections.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Elections in Zambia African Elections Database
  2. ^ a b Zambia 1988 Inter-Parliamentary Union
  3. ^ Nohlen, D, Krennerich, M & Thibaut, B (1999) Elections in Africa: A data handbook, p954 ISBN 0-19-829645-2
  4. ^ Zambia: 1973 and 1978 one-party elections EISA