Governance in Kenya: Ethnicity and Performance in the 2007 Elections

July 8, 2008 • 2:00 – 3:30 pm EDT


Gerald Hyman, President, CSIS Hills Program on Governance


Clark Gibson, Professor and Chair, Department of Political Science, Univeristy of California, San Diego
James Long, Departmrnt of Political Science, University of California, San Diego


Joel Barkan, Senior Associate, CSIS Africa Program


The presentation explored the role of ethnicity and government performance in determining Kenyans' vote choices in the December 2007 elections. Policymakers and scholars typically argue that voting in Africa is simply an ethnic head count. But what happens when no ethnic group is large enough to win outright? What happens when a citizen is confronted with candidates that are not from their ethnic group? Does a government's performance enter into a voter's calculations in Africa? And what does this tell us about the nature of political accountability and democractic participation in Africa? Gibson and Long's results demonstrate that voting in Africa may go beyond ethnicity, and thus argue for a more nuanced understanding of Africa politics.
Gerald Hyman
Senior Associate (Non-resident), Office of the President