Power-sharing and democratization in Africa: the Kenyan experience

  • Adam Drnovsky
  • Michal MochtakEmail author
Original Article


The institution of power-sharing has over the past years become known as a mechanism for conflict resolution and even a factor of democratization. While power-sharing proved certain effectiveness in overcoming political crises, its positive impact on democratization is contested. Although existing research has focused extensively on the relationship between power-sharing and democratization, some areas of this phenomenon remain under-researched. This is particularly true of power-sharing in the form of ad hoc political practices based on a temporary agreement of political elites resulting in the establishment of a government of national unity. This paper approaches the gap in understanding both conceptual levels of the phenomena through a case study of Kenya as a country which underwent a period of power-sharing and where elections have historically played an important role in the country’s path towards democratization. The paper provides an analysis of the impact of power-sharing on the democratic quality of elections and argues that the power-sharing government in Kenya eventually contributed to democratization although its impact on different areas of assessment varied.


Power-sharing Democratization Elections Kenya 



We would like to thank the three anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments and suggestions.


  1. Ajulu, Rok. 1992. Kenya: The Road to Democracy. Review of African Political Economy 53: 79–87.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Akech, Migai. 2010. Institutional Reform in the New Constitution of Kenya. New York: International Center for Transitional Justice.Google Scholar
  3. Aywa, Francis A. 2016. Kenya. In Election Management Bodies in East Africa, ed. Alexander B. Makulilo and Eugene Ntaganda. New York: Open Society Foundations.Google Scholar
  4. Balaton-Chrimes, Samantha. 2014. Statelessness, Identity Cards and Citizenship as Status in the Case of the Nubians of Kenya. Citizenship Studies 18 (1): 15–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bennett, Andrew. 2008. Process Tracing: A Bayesian Perspective. In The Oxford Handbook of Political Methodology, ed. Janet M. Box-Steffensmeier, Henry E. Brady, and David Collier, 702–721. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Binningsbø, H.M. 2013. Power Sharing, Peace and Democracy: Any Obvious Relationships? International Area Studies Review 16 (1): 89–112.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Binningsbø, Helga M., and Siri A. Rustad. 2012. Sharing the Wealth: A Pathway to Peace or a Trail to Nowhere? Conflict Management and Peace Science 29 (5): 547–566.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bogaards, Matthijs. 2013. Reexamining African Elections. Journal of Democracy 24 (4): 151–160.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Brown, S., and C.L. Sriram. 2012. The Big Fish Won’t Fry Themselves: Criminal Accountability for Post-election Violence in Kenya. African Affairs 111 (443): 244–260.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Burgess, M. 2011. Prospects for Peace and Democracy: Power-Sharing in Sub-Saharan Africa. Res Publica—Journal of Undergraduate Research 16 (1): 99–119.Google Scholar
  11. Carothers, Thomas. 2002. The End of the Transition Paradigm. Journal of Democracy 13 (1): 5–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Carter Center. 2013. Observing Kenya’s March 2013 National Elections Final Report. Atlanta: Carter Center.Google Scholar
  13. Commonwealth Observer Group. 2008. Kenya General Election 27 December 2007.Google Scholar
  14. Commonwealth Observer Group. 2013. Kenya General Elections 4 March 2013.Google Scholar
  15. Cheeseman, Nic. 2008. The Kenyan Elections of 2007: An Introduction. Journal of Eastern African Studies 2 (2): 166–184.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Cheeseman, Nic. 2010. African Elections as Vehicles for Change. Journal of Democracy 21 (4): 139–153.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Cheeseman, Nic. 2012. The Internal Dynamics of Power-Sharing in Africa. In Democratization in Africa: Challenges and Prospects, ed. Gordon Crawford and Gabrielle Lync, 62–91. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  18. Cheeseman, Nic, Gabrielle Lynch, and Justin Willis. 2014. Democracy and its Discontents: Understanding Kenya’s 2013 Elections. Journal of Eastern African Studies 8 (1): 2–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Chitere, Preston, Ludeki Chweya, Japhet Masya, Arne Tostensen, and Kamotho Waiganjo. 2006. Kenya Constitutional Documents: A Comparative Analysis (CMI Report). Bergen.
  20. Cottrel-Ghai, Jill, Yash Ghai, Korir Sing Oei, and Waikwa Wanyoike. 2013. Taking Diversity Seriously: Minorities and Political Participation in Kenya. London.Google Scholar
  21. Dahl, Robert A. 1989. Democracy and Its Critics. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  22. Dercon, Stefan, and Roxana Guttiérrez-Romero. 2010. Triggers and Characteristics of the 2007 Kenyan Electoral Violence. Oxford: World Development.Google Scholar
  23. Diamond, Larry Jay. 2002. Thinking About Hybrid Regimes. Journal of Democracy 13 (2): 21–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Diamond, Larry. 2006. Promoting Democracy in Post-conflkict and Failed States: Lessons and Challenges. Taiwan Journal of Democracy 2 (2): 93–116.Google Scholar
  25. Elklit, Jørgen. 1999. Electoral Institutional Change and Democratization: You Can Lead a Horse to Water, But You Can’t Make It Drink. Democratization 6 (4): 28–51.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Elklit, Jørgen, and Palle Svensson. 1997. What Makes Elections Free and Fair? Journal of Democracy 8 (3): 32–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. EODS. 2016a. Handbook for European Union Election Observation. Luxembourg: Publication Office of the European Union.Google Scholar
  28. EODS. 2016b. Compendium of International Standards for Elections. Brussels: Publication Office of the European Union.Google Scholar
  29. EU EOM. 2008. Kenya Final Report General Elections 27 December 2007.
  30. EU EOM. 2013. European Union Election Observation Mission to Kenya General Elections 2013 Final Report.Google Scholar
  31. EU EOM. 2018. Kenya Final Report General Elections 2017.Google Scholar
  32. Gates, Scott, and Kaare Strøm. 2013. The Appeals and Perils of Power-Sharing. In Fragile Bargains: Civil Conflict and Power-Sharing in Africa, ed. Scott Gates and Kaare Strøm. Oslo: Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO).Google Scholar
  33. Gerenge, Robert. 2013. The 2013 Elections in Kenya and Zimbabwe: Lessons for Africa and Beyond.Google Scholar
  34. Gerring, J., and S.C. Thacker. 2008. A Centripetal Theory of Democratic Governance. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Gibson, Clark C., and James D. Long. 2009. The Presidential and Parliamentary Elections in Kenya, December 2007. Electoral Studies 28 (3): 497–502.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Githiora, Chege. 2008. Kenya: Language and the Search for a Coherent National Identity. In Language and National Identity in Africa, ed. Andrew Simpson, 235–251. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  37. Graham, Suzanne. 2016. The Quality of Elections in African Small Island Developing States. Journal of Comparative Politics 44 (1): 133–155.Google Scholar
  38. Grindle, Merilee S. 2007. Going Local: Decentralization, Democratization, and the Promise of Good Governance. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  39. Handley, Lisa. 2007. Challenging the Norms and Standards of Election Administration: Boundary Delimitation. In Challenging the Norms and Standards of Election Administration, ed. Steven Clift, Steven Clift, Jarret Blanc, Lisa Handley, and Marcin Walecki, 59–74. Arlington: IFES.Google Scholar
  40. Harneit-Sievers, Axel, and Ralph-Michael Peters. 2008. Kenya’ s 2007 General Election and Its Aftershocks. African Spectrum 43 (1): 133–144.Google Scholar
  41. Hassan, Ahmed Issack. 2009. Kenya’s Electoral System and Process in Context: Lessons Learnt for the Future. Nairobi.Google Scholar
  42. Hassan, Ahmed Issack. 2010. Electoral Reforms: Kenya’s Recent Experience. In on Elections Management in the East African Community, ed. Regional Seminar, 1–28. Dar-es-Salaam: ARRF.Google Scholar
  43. Hoddie, Matthew, and Caroline A. Hartzell. 2003. Civil War Settlements and the Implementation of Military Power-Sharing Arrangements. Journal of Peace Research 40 (3): 8–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Hope, K.R. 2015. Bringing in the Future in Kenya: Beyond the 2010 Constitution. Insight on Africa 7 (2): 91–107.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Horowitz, Donald L. 2003. The Cracked Foundations of the Right to Secede. Journal of Democracy 14 (2): 5–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Horowitz, Jeremy. 2008. Power-Sharing in Kenya: Power-sharing Agreements, Negotiations and Peace Processes. Oslo: Center for the Study of Civil War.Google Scholar
  47. Horowitz, Jeremy. 2012. Campaigns and Ethnic Polarization in Kenya. San Diego: University of California.Google Scholar
  48. Howard, Marc M., and Philip G. Roessler. 2006. Liberalizing Electoral Outcomes in Competitive Authoritarian Regimes. American Journal of Political Science 50 (2): 365–381.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Huntington, Samuel P. 1991. Democracy’s Third Wave. Journal of Democracy 2 (2): 12–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Hyde, Susan D. 2011. The Pseudo-Democrat’s Dilemma: Why Election Observation Became an International Norm. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. IFES. 2017. Elections in Kenya 2017 Rerun Presidential Elections: Frequently Asked Questions.
  52. Imoite, John. 2007. Youth Participation in Kenyan Politics: Challenges and Opportunities. In Youth and Politics in Conflict Contexts, 9–10. Washington Dc: Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.Google Scholar
  53. International Crisis Group. 2013a. Kenya’s 2013 Elections. Brussels.
  54. International Crisis Group. 2013b. ‘Kenya After the Elections’, Nairobi and Brussels available at
  55. Jarstad, Anna K. 2001. Changing the Game: Consociational Theory and Ethnic Quotas in Cyprus and New Zealand. Ph.D. diss., Uppsala University.Google Scholar
  56. Jarstad, Anna K. 2008. Power-Sharing: Former Enemies in Joint Government. In From War to Democracy: Dilemmas of Peacebuilding, ed. Anna K. Jarstad and Timothy D. Sisk, 105–133. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Jarstad, Anna K. 2009. The Prevalence of Power-Sharing: Exploring the Patterns of Post-Election Peace. Africa Spectrum 44 (3): 41–62.Google Scholar
  58. Jung, Courtney, and Ian Shapiro. 1995. South Africa’s Negotiated Transition: Democracy, Opposition, and the New Constitutional Order. Politics & Society 23 (3): 269–308.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Kagwanja, Peter, and Roger Southall. 2009. Introduction: Kenya—A Democracy in retreat? Journal of Contemporary African Studies 27 (3): 259–277.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Kamau, Nyokabi. 2010. Women and Political Leadership in Kenya. Nairobi: Heinrich Böll Foundation.Google Scholar
  61. Kanyinga, Karuti. 2014. Kenya: Democracy and Political Participation. Nairobi: Open Society Initiative for Eastern Africa.Google Scholar
  62. Kanyinga, Karuti, Duncan Okello, and Akoko Akech. 2010. Contradictions of Transition to Democracy in Fragmented Societies: The Kenya 2007 General Elections in Perspective. In Tensions and Reversals in Democratic Transitions: The Kenya 2007 General Elections, ed. Karuti Kanyinga and Duncan Okello, 1–30. Nairobi: Society for International Development (SID) and Institute for Development Studies (IDS), University of Nairobi.Google Scholar
  63. Karl, Terry L. 1986. Imposing Consent? Electoralism versus Democratization in El Salvador. In Elections and Democratization in Latin America, 19801985. LA Jolla: Center for Iberian and Latin American Studies, University of California.Google Scholar
  64. Kelley, Judith G. 2012. Monitoring Democracy: When International Election Observation Works, and Why It Often Fails. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  65. Kenya Vision 2030. 2017. Vision 2030. In Political Pillar: Public Sector Reforms. Accessed 3 August 2017.
  66. Kisika, Samuel. 2016 MPs agree on setting up a selection panel to appoint IEBC commissioners. The Star. Accessed 28 February 2018.
  67. KNCHR. 2007. “Still Behaving Badly” Second Periodic Report of the Election-Monitoring Project.Google Scholar
  68. Kramon, Eric, and Daniel N. Posner. 2011. Kenya’s New Constitution. Journal of Democracy 22 (2): 89–103.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Kriegler, Johann et al. 2008. Report of the Independent Review Commission on the General Elections held in Kenya on 27 December 2007. Kriegler Report, Nairobi.Google Scholar
  70. Levan, Carl A. 2011. Power Sharing and Inclusive Politics in Africa’s Uncertain Democracies. Governance: An International Journal of Policy, Administration, and Institutions 24 (1): 1–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Levi, Margareth. 1990. A Logic of Institutional Change. In The Limits of Rationality, ed. Karen S. Cook and Margareth Levi, 402–418. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  72. Lijphart, Arend. 1977. Democracy in Plural Societies: A Comparative Exploration. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  73. Lijphart, Arend. 1999. Patterns of Democracy: Government Forms and Performance in Thirty-Six Countries. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  74. Lindberg, Staffan. 2006. Democracy and Elections in Africa. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
  75. Lindberg, Staffan I. 2009. Democratization by Elections: A New Mode of Transition. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
  76. Long, James D. 2012. Voting, Fraud, and Violence: The Problem of Elections in Emerging Democracies. Ph.D. diss., University of California, San Diego.Google Scholar
  77. Long, James D., Karuti Kanyinga, Karen E. Ferree, and Clark Gibson. 2013. Choosing Peace over Democracy. Journal of Democracy 24 (3): 140–155.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Lynch, Maureen. 2008. Kenya: National Registration Process Leaves Minorities on the Edge of Statelessness. Washington DC: Refugees International Bulletin.Google Scholar
  79. Malombe, Davis, Martin Mavenjina, Medika Medi, and Sylvia Mbataru. 2016. Kenya’s Regional and International Human Rights Obligations. Nairobi.Google Scholar
  80. Maren, Michael P. 1987. Kenya: The Dissolution of Democracy. Current History 86 (520): 30–35.Google Scholar
  81. McCoy, Jennifer, and Jonathan Hartly. 2009. The Relative Powerlessness of Elections. In Democratization by Elections: A New Mode of Transition. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
  82. Merino, Mathieu. 2013. Prevention and Management of Election-Related Violence in Kenya: Awareness Campaigns and Freedom of Speech. In Les notes de la FRS. Paris: Fondation pour la recherché stratégique.Google Scholar
  83. Moore, Jina. 2017. Uhuru Kenyatta Is Declared Winner of Kenya’s Repeat Election. The New York Times.Google Scholar
  84. Mudhai, Fredrick. 2007. Time to Harvest? Media, Corruption and Elections in Kenya. International Journal of Communication Ethics 4 (4): 30–35.Google Scholar
  85. Murray, Christina. 2013. Kenya’s 2010 Constitution. Neue Folge Band Jahrbuch des Offentlichen Rechts 61: 747–788.Google Scholar
  86. Mwangi, Oscar Gakuo. 2008. Political Corruption, Party Financing and Democracy in Kenya. The Journal of Modern African Studies 46 (2): 267–285.Google Scholar
  87. Ndegwa, Stephen N. 2003. Kenya: Third Time Lucky? Journal of Democracy 14 (3): 145–158.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  88. Norris, Pippa. 2008. Driving Democracy: Do Power-Sharing Institutions Work?. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  89. Norris, Pippa. 2009. All Elections are not the Same: Why Power-Sharing Elections Strengthen Democratization. In Democratization by Elections: A New Mode of Transition, ed. Staffan Lindberg, 148–176. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
  90. Nyambane, Ondigi O. 2012. Prosecuting Hate Speech in Kenya. Nairobi: University of Nairobi.Google Scholar
  91. Nyambedha, Erick Otieno, Simiyu Wandibba, and Jens Aagaard-Hansen. 2001. Policy Implications of the Inadequate Support Systems for Orphans in Western Kenya. Health Policy 58 (1): 83–96.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  92. O’Donnell, Guillermo O., and Philippe C. Schmitter. 1986. Transitions from Authoritarian Rule: Tentative Conclusions about Uncertain Democracies. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
  93. O’Donnell, Guillermo A., Philippe C. Schmitter, and Laurence Whitehead. 1986. Transitions from Authoritarian Rule: Comparative Perspectives. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
  94. Ochieng, Robi Koki, Terry Gachoka, and Carlos Mureithi. 2014. Ethical Journalism: The Case of the Adherence to the Code of Conduct in the Kenyan Media.Google Scholar
  95. Omolo, Annette. 2012. Kenya: Review of Rights Discourse. Oslo.
  96. Onapajo, Hakeem. 2015. Nigeria’s 2015 General Elections: The Salience of Electoral Reforms. The Round Table 104 (5): 573–584.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  97. Oneko, Sella. 2013. Kenya’s latest political alliance. DW Africa.Google Scholar
  98. Ongoya, Elisha Z., and Willis E. Otieno. 2012. Handbook on Kenya’s Electoral Laws and System. Nairobi: Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa (EISA).Google Scholar
  99. Orago, Nicholas Wasonga. 2013. The 2010 Kenyan Constitution and the Hierarchical Place of International Law in the Kenyan Domestic Legal System: A Comparative Perspective. African Human rights Law Journal 13: 415–440.Google Scholar
  100. OSCE/ODIHR. 2010. Election Observation Handbook, 6th ed.
  101. Ottmann, Martin, and Johannes Vüllers. 2014. The Power-Sharing Event Dataset (PSED): A New Dataset on the Occurrence of Power-Sharing in Post-conflict Countries. Conflict Management and Peace Science 32 (3): 327–350.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  102. Owuor, Felix. 2008. The 2007 General Elections in Kenya: Electoral Laws and Process. Journal of African Elections 7 (2): 113–123.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  103. Pickering, Jeffrey, and Mark Peceny. 2006. Forging Democracy at Gunpoint. International Studies Quarterly 50 (3): 539–560.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  104. Reynolds, Andrew. 1999. Electoral Systems and Democratization in Southern Africa. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  105. Schedler, Andreas. 2002. Elections Without Democracy. Journal of Democracy 13 (2): 36–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  106. Schedler, Andreas. 2013. The Politics of Uncertainty: Sustaining and Subverting Electoral Authoritarianism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  107. Schulz-Herzenberg, Collette, Peter Aling’o, and Sebastian Gatimu. 2015. The 2013 General Elections in Kenya: The Integrity of the Electoral Process. Institute for Security Studies: Policy Brief 74 (February): 1–12.Google Scholar
  108. Semetko, Holli A. 2010. Election Campaigns, Partisan Balance, and the News Media. In Public Sentinel: News Media & Governance Reform, ed. Pippa Norris, 163–192. Washington, DC: The World Bank.Google Scholar
  109. Shah, Seema. 2015. Free and Fair? Citizens’ Assessments of the 2013 General Election in Kenya. Review of African Political Economy 42 (143): 44–61.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  110. Shulika, Lukong Stella, Wilson Kamau Muna, and Stephen Mutula. 2013. Monetary Clout and Electoral Politics in Kenya: The 1992 to 2013 Presidential Elections in Focus. Journal of African Elections 13 (2): 196–215.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  111. Sihanya, Ben. 2012. Constitutional Implementation in Kenya, 2010–2015: Challenges and Prospects. FES Kenya Occasional Paper.Google Scholar
  112. Sriram, Chandra, and Marie-Jöelle Zahar. 2009. The Perils of Power-Sharing: Africa and Beyond. Africa Spectrum, pp. 11–39.Google Scholar
  113. Taagepera, Rein. 2007. Predicting Party Sizes: The Logic of Simple Electoral Systems. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  114. Teorell, Jan. 2010. Determinants of Democratization: Explaining Regime Change in the World, 1972–2006. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  115. The Elections Observation Group (ELOG). 2015. The Historic Vote: Elections 2013.
  116. Tuccinardi, Domenico, Franck Balme, and Gillian McCormack. 2012. The Evolution of Election Observation in the European Union: From Fraud Prevention to Democracy Support Introduction. In The Integrity of Elections: The Role of Regional Organizations, ed. Raul Cordenillo and Andrew Ellis, 57–75. Stockholm: International IDEA.Google Scholar
  117. United Nations. 2008. National Accord and Reconciliation Act. United Nations Peacemaker: Document Retrieval. Accessed 3 August 2017.
  118. Vandeginste, Stef. 2013. The African Union, Constitutionalism and Power-Sharing. Journal of African Law 57 (1): 1–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  119. Vandeginste, Stef. 2015. Briefing: Burundi’s Electoral Crisis—Back to Power-Sharing Politics as Usual? African Affairs 114 (457): 624–636.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  120. Venice Commission. 2010. Guidelines on Political Party Regulation. Adopted by the Venice Commission at its 84th Plenary Session, Venice.Google Scholar
  121. Wahman, Michael. 2014. Democratization and Electoral Turnovers in sub-Saharan Africa and Beyond. Democratization 21 (2): 220–243.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  122. Waris, Attiya. 2015. Financing Elections in an Opaque Fiscal Economy: Kenya’s 2013 Elections. In New Constitution, Same Old Challenges: Reflections on Kenya’s 2013 General Elections, ed. Fred Otieno, 204–226. Nairobi: Society for International Developmen.Google Scholar
  123. Whitaker, Beth Elise, and Jason Giersch. 2009. Voting on a Constitution: Implications for Democracy in Kenya. Journal of Contemporary African Studies 27 (1): 1–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  124. Wolfrom, Marie. 2013. The Election Commission and the Supreme Court: Two New Institutions Put to the Test By Elections. Afrique contemporaine 247 (3): 53.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Limited 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.European Inter-University Centre for Human Rights and DemocratisationVenice LidoItaly
  2. 2.Institute of Political Science, Maison des Sciences HumainesUniversity of LuxembourgEsch-sur-AlzetteLuxembourg

Personalised recommendations