Ideally, political parties should be the institutional transmission belt that conveys the will of the voter to government and back. They are the vehicle through which popular sovereignty is expressed and then transformed into public policy and action. In addition, multiple parties provide a mechanism for competition, so that voters have a choice in conveying their mandate to the rulers.

This report examines the structure of the party systems, and parties’ internal organization and functions, and evaluates the effectiveness of political parties in strengthening democratic governance in five East African states: Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda. It provides evidence of similarities between the party systems found in these countries, but also of differences in party structures and the capabilities of political parties in the five countries.

The report aims to provide details and an explanation of this diverse experience in party systems in East Africa, based on a study of party documents, published research, interviews and press reports. In addition to these open sources, it relies on individual country studies and interviews with party officials, conducted in the countries concerned under the auspices of International IDEA’s Political Parties Programme for Africa.


Publication date
26 September 2007
Michael Chege
Number of pages
978-91-85724-16-1 (Print)


The project and methodology

The global context

Regional analysis: general and country-specific characteristics

Party systems at country level

Political parties: internal structures, functions and regulation

Conclusion: general comments on the features of the East African region and the way forward

Acronyms and abbreviations

References and further reading

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Political Parties in East Africa: Diversity in Political Party Systems

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