African Journal of
Political Science and International Relations

  • Abbreviation: Afr. J. Pol. Sci. Int. Relat.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 1996-0832
  • DOI: 10.5897/AJPSIR
  • Start Year: 2007
  • Published Articles: 399

Full Length Research Paper

Do the people have faith in electoral democracy? Lessons from Kenyan 2007 presidential elections

Chris, M. A. Kwaja
Centre for Conflict Management and Peace Studies, University of Jos, Jos, Nigeria.
Email: [email protected], [email protected]

  •  Accepted: 06 January 2009
  •  Published: 28 February 2009


This paper seeks to examine the concept of mandate protection, its challenges and impact in building and strengthening electoral democracy in Kenya. It is the contention of this paper that in situations where citizens’ voice and choices are systematically negated communities have no alternative but to rise in resistance to protect the sanctity of their electoral mandates in a “non-violent” manner. It argues further that the conduct of controversial elections can reduce citizens’ confidence in the electoral process and cast a shadow on the legitimacy of the electoral outcome as evident in the pervasive violence that was witnessed in Kenya after the 2007 elections. Mandate protection is essentially about the will of the people and it is a function of power relations. The balance of power in the polity determines how much space and access the people can have in the protection and defence of their interests. In the case of Kenya, violence as a viable option became inevitable in the power calculus as it relates to the balance of political power between the PNU and the ODM led by Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga respectively. In the final analysis of this paper we contend that the use of violence as part of a political bargaining process among other important instruments, when options become limited in confrontational politics is politically efficacious as a result of the power sharing agreement between the PNU and the ODM.


Key words:  Elections, democracy, mandate protection, power sharing.