By Henry Maina
Middle class can be defined as those who spent $20 or more each day on non-basic needs. Kenya has held an estimated 12 elections. During the last national elections there were 14 million registered voters, of which the voter turnout was approximately 85%. While this may seem as a good turnout, the voting population at the time was 22 million, therefore, 8 million did not even register.
This would therefore put the actual voter turnout at approximately 55.6%. For the 2017 elections, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) are aiming at a voter registration of 15 million. This leaves out 5 million of the voting population. The political and economic landscape of Kenya currently consists of a growing economy; however, there is inequality in this expansion; Unstable and unpredictable political institutions – consisting of the same political parties which constantly change their names and alliances; A political culture where the population has not developed an interest in finding out more about the parties, keep up with primary elections, reading party constitutions; Seeming middle class revulsion – where the middle class do not take a personal interest in political issues, but instead take the views of political analysts and make them their own, tweeting these.
A lack of career politicians who ‘grow up’ with and in the parties as is evident in many western political arenas; Tribal pie eating – which may explain for example why President Kibaki who had accomplished so much in his first term of presidency struggled in the bid for a second term; Decline in middle class aspiration to be involved in politics – they are not motivated anymore by the reasonably good salary compensation offered to say, Members of Parliament.
The solutions include an increase in middle class ideologists who understand the political parties and individuals they are aligned to and can explain why they are aligned to them;
Simplification of the voter registration process – for example, combining the registration for National Identity Cards (IDs) with that for voter registration cards. This would also reduce opportunities for corruption. Taking part in opportunities such as political debates. These debates are not merely for entertainment and we need to pursue opportunities on how we can make contributions to the questions presented to the panels. This is especially key for us as a group as we can make contributions in a variety of sectors.