Dizzying political party hopping is common place in Kenya
Our country never ceases to amaze me. Kenya is indeed a land full of contradictions. Watching recent events, most Kenyans are well aware that a very familiar and predictable scene is unfolding. The season of political party mergers and realignments is in full swing. The dizzying political party hopping and realignments mean one thing; an election is not too far off the horizon.
Shameless political somersaults and about turns by our politicians are on full display. Politicians from both sides of the political divide carry this dubious tag.
Political party convictions, principles and beliefs
Elsewhere in developed democracies, political conviction and a belief in policies and principles are integral tenets to the identity of politicians and indeed political leaders.
In the US for example, traditionally, clear and distinguishable policy differences exist between the two major political parties.
The Republican Party on one hand tends to adopt a more aggressive foreign policy complemented by the use of hard power to project America’s influence around the world.
One of the party’s central economic principles is the preference for a ‘small government’.
On the other hand, the Democratic Party prefers the use of soft power and diplomacy as an instrument of foreign policy as opposed to raw military power. The party favours a significant government role in the economy and has a liberal leaning on social issues like marriage.
In Australia, the Liberal National Party (LNP) for example is more pro big business and will slash taxes for the big end of town like mining companies and banks in order to spur jobs growth. The LNP also favours generous tax cuts or concessions mostly for the well to do in society.
In contrast, the Labour Party more often than not tends to generally favour small businesses as the ‘engine room’ of the economy and will mostly focus on tax cuts for the middle class.
These examples are an illustration that fundamental policy differences distinguish one political party from the other. The differences can be irreconcilable hence why it is uncommon for politicians to switch political parties in these countries.
Political parties in Kenya
It is impossible to make such a distinction in our country because sadly, political parties are like fashion; they come and go with some re-emerging into the limelight when conditions are right.
Kenyan politics is deeply tribal in nature and very much revolves around personalities. Our politics is never based on any principles or policies. For most politicians, the prime consideration is which political party offers the best chance of election or re-election.
Political careers have been born, blossomed or ended depending on the political party one aligns with. Politicians who dared stand by their political convictions tragically are now consigned to the political scrap yard.
Long gone are the days when those seeking elective positions did so purely to serve the country.
The tribal nature of Kenyan politics
It should therefore not be lost on Kenyans the reason for all the jostling happening within the newly minted Jubilee Party with politicians largely from Central, Eastern and the larger Rift Valley tripping over each other trying to reposition themselves for the party’s selection in the coming election.
Politicians from these regions not aligned to the Jubilee Party will face an insurmountable task of clinching an elective post.
Now weighing its options, the same fate awaits the opposition which must merge if it is to mount any serious challenge at the next election. It is inevitable that jostling and elbowing for prime spots will will happen. This will determine who is elected from Nyanza, Western and the Coastal regions where ODM has had a significant political grip.
So with all these unfolding political shenanigans, what can Kenyans expect then?
I submit that if history is a guide, ours is a political culture where even with the passage of time nothing seems to change. Only politicians always seem to emerge as the sole beneficiaries.