Ethnic Coalitions of Convenience and Commitment: Political Parties and Party Systems in Kenya

16 04 2008

URL: http://www.ciaonet.org/wps/giga10514/giga10514.pdf
Source: German Institute of Global and Area Studies

This paper analyzes the role of ethnicity in shaping the character of Kenya’s political parties and its party system since 1992. Drawing on a constructivist conception of ethnicity, it uses a framework of comparison derived from Donald Horowitz and distinguishes between three party types: the mono-ethnic party, the multi-ethnic alliance type and the multi-ethnic integrative type. It shows that although Kenyan parties have increasingly incorporated diverse communities, they have consistently failed to bridge the country’s dominant ethnic cleavages. Consequently, all of Kenya’s significant parties represent ethnic coalitions of convenience and commitment and, thus, ethnic parties. The paper further states that the country’s post-2007 political environment is a by-product of the omnipresence of this party type.

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