Friday, February 22, 2013

So Where Are We in All Of This?

Top Candidates in the Kenyan Election. February 22, 2013

Mwenzangu, the Kenyan election is going to be closely watched.

If it goes well, it could signal a sea change in African politics. If the Kenyan 2013 Presidential Election goes smoothly, and is not very violent, than it will mean that there are at least three African countries with well-functioning multi-party democracies: Ghana, South Africa, and Kenya.

If the Kenyan election goes poorly, and erupts in violence, it will reconfirm stereotypes about the inability of Africans to govern.

As we approach the election, Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga are neck and neck. According to the IPSOS polling firm, Political Party/Alliance Preference and Presidential Candidate Preference, Uhuru Kenyatta and his Jubilee Alliance garners 44.8 percent of the vote whereas Raila Odinga and the CORD Alliance is garnering 44.4 percent. For the statisticians out there, that race is not only too close to call, it is within less than one percentage point. The same page above has a really cool map of the race by county. Indeed, according to Mr. Tom Wolf at IPSOS Synovate,

With nine days to go, none of the candidates appeared able to garner the 50 per cent-plus one vote threshold set by the Constitution for one to be declared an outright winner.

This means a runoff is likely. With Mudavadi polling 5.2 and other candidates such as Martha Karua and Peter Kenneth in the mix, anything could happen in the second round runoff. Hold on to your seatbelts folks, it is going to be a bumpy ride.

One point that most in the press are not reporting that really disturbs me is the issue of "dynastic succession." Can we really call Kenya a democracy when 50 years after independence, the two strongest candidates are scions of the lions of Independence? The race is not actually competitive when Kenya's royalty names its princes.


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