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Supporting democratic and effective political parties in Kenya

PUBLISHED:
01/05/2014
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Photo credit:  Team Ushahidi@flickr

Photo credit:  Team Ushahidi@flickr

Since August 2013, IDEA has supported political parties in Kenya to develop their strategic plans using the Institute’s Strategic Planning Tool for Political Parties. This initial phase has now come to an end (April 2014) and the next step will be the implementation of these plans.

Kenyans adopted a new Constitution on 4 August 2010 after years of constitution-making/review process. The hard work has only just begun however, to make the reforms needed to implement this Constitution. To be able to play their crucial role in the implementation, political parties in Kenya need first and foremost comply with this new Constitution as well as the new Political Parties Act. In more general terms, for them to be effective drivers for democracy, political parties must be well organized, internally democratic and transparent, effective and sustainable institutions.

In Kenya, political parties have been emerging as strong political contestants (including providing a head of state) but frequently disappearing after one election cycle, in part because they lacked long-term strategies to respond to the threats that are constantly present in any political environment.

The Strategic Planning Tool for Political Parties (International IDEA and NIMD, 2013) offers political parties a step-by-step methodology for conducting a strategic planning process. It helps them better define themselves; better articulate their vision and niche in the national political arena; clarify internal processes and outreach strategies. All these are very important if a political party is to weather political storms. A well-developed strategic plan also makes for a more compelling case to assistance providers or donors who give financial or technical support to political parties. It is in this context, 9 political parties (selected on the basis of the number of votes obtained during 2013 elections) used IDEA’s Tool in Kenya between August 2013 and April 2014, supported by International IDEA in terms of technical and financial assistance to develop or review their strategic plans.

This support was provided in the framework of the SIDA-funded project entitled ‘’Supporting Electoral and Political Processes in Kenya’’, which aimed to strengthen the capacity of the Office and the Registrar of Political Parties. The implementation on the ground involved workshops in which each party’s planning team was facilitated by planning experts to do comprehensive SWOT analyses; deciding what issues were of strategic nature; and on that basis draft their strategic plans. The implementation was successful thanks to good collaboration with the Office of the Registrar of Political Parties and the Centre for Multi-Party Democracy in Kenya (CMD-K).

In addition to strategic plans as the main outputs, the process was intended as a useful capacity strengthening process for all the parties involved. For instance, parties adhered to key democratic principles such as inclusiveness in the selection of their planning teams; and also the officials involved gained first-hand knowledge of strategic planning (the skills that should remain an asset to these parties beyond the planning process).

The next step would be to support the implementation of these plans as well as other enabling documents such as the Guides and Manuals for the implementation of the Political Parties’ Act and the Political Party Finance Act that have also been developed (through a separate process) by this project.