Country Risk

DRC opposition’s probable contesting of upcoming election results raises likelihood of limited protests, new transitional political authority

02 November 2018
Opposition supporters demonstrate against the DRC electoral process in Kinshasa on 26 October. The opposition is highly likely to contest any ruling coalition victory in December’s presidential election. Source: Junior D Kannah/AFP/Getty Images

Key Points

  • DRC’s upcoming elections, delayed from November 2016 and now scheduled for 23 December, will likely be held on time, with any (less likely) delays pushing it back no further than April 2019.
  • The validity of the election result will likely be contested by the opposition, but resulting protests will likely last no longer than three days and will be largely contained by security forces.
  • An opposition contestation of the election result would raise the probability of a transitional period, lasting through 2019, during which incumbent President Kabila remained in office.


A rare international poll of voting intentions in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) presidential election, scheduled for 23 December and which IHS Markit assesses will be held on that date or soon after, highlights a high likelihood that the opposition will contest a ruling coalition victory. This would raise the probability of a transitional political authority being formed, under which incumbent President Joseph Kabila would continue to exercise effective political power. Protests against the election result would likely be largely contained by the security forces.

On 30 October, a rare international poll of voting intentions in the DRC’s upcoming presidential election gave the lead to opposition politicians, with 36% support for Felix Tshisekedi and 17% for Vital Kamerhe, and put Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, the designated candidate of the ruling coalition’s Common Front for Congo (Front Commun pour le Congo: FCC) platform, in third place with just 16%.

DRC’s presidential, legislative, and provincial elections, delayed from November 2016, are scheduled for 23 December. IHS Markit assesses that the scheduled elections will likely be held on time, with any (less likely) delays pushing them back no further than April 2019. Notably, a pro-FCC rally in Kinshasa on 27 October was attended by at least 50,000 people. While such Congolese political rallies frequently inflate their attendance by offering hand-outs to induce participation (with many people attending opposing sides’ events for this reason), the decision by the FCC to commit sufficient resources to securing such a large turnout indicates is preparing for an imminent election campaign (and seeking to establish that it could credibly win at the polls).

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