Dying to win: elections, political violence, and institutional decay in Kenya
Mueller, Susanne D.
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Introduction This paper examines the lessons learned from Kenya's 2007 post election violence and what has happened since then. It notes that the root causes of the violence still persist, have not been addressed, and easily could be reignited. Faced with a situation where institutions and the rule of law have been weakened deliberately and where diffused violence is widespread, both Kenya's transition to democracy and the fate of the nation remain vulnerable. The argument here is that the problems faced in holding and managing elections in conflict situations often are not simply technical. Instead, in Kenya and elsewhere, many difficulties are symptomatic of larger political and institutional questions related to democratic change that are more difficult to analyze in causal terms or to address. Democratic theorists from Robert Dahl2 onward have long understood that democracy consists of much more than just multi-party elections. At the heart of the democratic experiment are two underlying caveats bordering on truisms. First, there must be a willingness to lose elections and not to win them by any means and at all costs, including killing one's opponents. In established democracies, both politicians and the public accept that tomorrow is another day to get their person elected. Second, and central to democracy and the democratic process, is a belief in the integrity of the rule of law and institutions that must be matched by the way in which laws and institutions operate in practice. Where this does not occur, democracy is vulnerable. However, there is little by way of agreement about the underlying causes or events that give rise to these two factors or trigger the incentives for elite consensus necessary for their emergence. [TRUNCATED]
African Studies Center Working Paper No. 263
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