[PAPER] Kenya 2017 : The Interim Elections ? by Gabrielle Lynch, Justin Willis, Nic Cheeseman

OAEKENYA 2017 : the interim elections ?


Justin Willis – Durham University

Nic Cheeseman – University of Birmingham

Gabrielle Lynch – University of Warwick


Our partner, the Observatoire d’Afrique de l’Est (CEDEJ Khartoum, CRI SciencesPo Paris), recently published a note d’actualité about the upcoming elections in Kenya.

We just wanted to let you know that the paper was available here


“The fear of violence hangs over elections in Kenya. The murders and popu- lation displacements that followed the disputed elections of 2007 still loom large in the minds of Kenyans, as well as internationally. In advance of the 2017 elections there have been multiple warnings from government agen- cies of the possibility of violence1. But the 2017 elections are unlikely to see conflict on the scale of 2007/8, though there has already been some lethal violence at a local level, and more is likely – particularly if there are signifi- cant problems with election processes. At the time of writing (early July), and with a month of campaigning still to go, the race is becoming increasingly close. Nevertheless, it currently seems likely that, unless one side conducts a very good or bad campaign, that incumbent president Uhuru Kenyatta will be returned to power in the first round with a marginal lead, defeating Rai- la Odinga, who is the candidate for the coalition National Super Alliance (NASA). Although this could still change in the last month of the campaigns as NASA continue to pick up ground and the elections become increasingly close. It also seems likely that Kenyatta’s new political vehicle – the Jubilee Party – will have a majority in parliament. Kenyatta is again running with William Ruto as his deputy, with the very explicit understanding that he will have Kenyatta’s support in running for the presidency in the next elections scheduled for 2022. The focus of attention has already partly shifted to those polls, and the August elections have often felt like an interim process – with much of the political calculations and manoeuvring revolving around a key question: will the voters and the political/business establishment of central Kenya really give their full support to William Ruto in five years’ time? This focus on presidential outcomes, immediate and future, distracts attention from the significance of other contests, especially those for the powerful po- sitions of county governor created by Kenya’s 2010 constitution. These are the second national elections under that constitution – the first having been held in 2013. Kenyan voters will cast six ballots on 8 August: for president, member of parliament (MP), county governor, senator, member of county assembly (MCA) and women’s representative. Kenya’s new constitution, and subsequent legislation, have been explicitly intended to transform politics. That transformation has not realised the ambitions of some of its advocates; but the dynamics of Kenyan politics have changed significantly.

Key Words / Mots-clefs : Kenya,Elections, Violence, Parties, coalitions, election management”


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