Political Parties in Transitions: The Kenyan Experience


Political Parties in Transitions: The Kenyan Experience



Published as Chapter 8 in Political Succession in East Africa: In Search for a Limited Leadership, Chris Maina Peter & Fritz Kopsieker, eds.

Political parties, as the sole organs that rule the state, must understand, advance, and defend the country’s national interests. Although political parties will differ in ideology and philosophy, they nevertheless must espouse and abide by core national interests. Many East African states, including Kenya, lack a progressive-or even a clear unambiguous – political party’s law that would set strict and fair criteria to govern political parties. The lessons to be drawn from the Kenyan experience are several and include the observation that political parties in East Africa are generally fragile, lack a national outlook, are not driven by clearly differing ideologies in the context of the same state, and woefully lack a viable resource base. But in general, even with these debilitating factors, political parties seem to be committed, at least rhetorically, to the creation of liberal democratic, open market states. This orientation represents the consensus of elites in the region. The problem has been the inability of the elites to translate these aspirations into reality because of the countervailing interests entrenched in corruption, ethnic politics, narrow personal agendas, and underdeveloped economies.

Publication Date



Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, Kenya office



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Political Parties, Transitions, Kenya, East Africa, State, Liberal Democratic, Corruption, Ethnic Politics


International Relations | Law | Law and Politics

Political Parties in Transitions: The Kenyan Experience