IDEOLOGY POLITICS

Raila-Ruto alliance would be selfish, undermine multi-party democracy

In mature and properly working democracies, citizens vote for parties and not individuals.

In Summary

• The manifesto that Raila would develop is expected to be radically different from that of Ruto.

• The support base that they should be able to attract is as well expected to be clearly differentiable.

Deputy President William Ruto and ODM leader Raila Odinga at DP's Karen home. Looking on is President Uhuru Kenyatta.
OLD FRIENDS: Deputy President William Ruto and ODM leader Raila Odinga at DP's Karen home. Looking on is President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Image: FILE

The media has been awash with reports of possible political alliance between ODM chief Raila Odinga and the de facto UDA leader DP William Ruto.

The talks came hot on the heels of claims of betrayal by the ODM brigade regarding the BBI process.

The thrusting of Baringo Senator Gideon Moi to the forefront of BBI engagements after the passage by majority assemblies confounded the ODM loyalists.

They wasted no time to remind all and sundry that the BBI was a product of the handshake between Raila and President Uhuru Kenyatta. Any other political leaders invited could only play support cast roles.

Uhuru appeared unfazed and proceeded to cobble an alliance around the NASA orphans of Kalonzo Musyoka (Wiper), Musalia Mudavadi (ANC)and Moses Wetang’ula (Ford Kenya), and the Kanu leade, Gideon.

Picking on this disillusionment, DP Ruto began a charm offensive into the Raila territory. His henchmen soon started to imply that there is nothing personal between Raila and the DP. Ruto himself declared Raila is the only national leader worth his salt.

The ODM leader’s lieutenants have also made it abundantly known that an alliance with Ruto is not impossible. These events have made pundits speculate that the workings of a pre-election grand alliance were in the offing.

However, it was also not lost to observers that these pronouncements came at a time when the President was broadening the leadership of the BBI process to include other political players.

The Matungu by-election also exposed the bitter rivalry between ODM and their erstwhile Nasa allies, ANC. There were claims that state machinery was deployed to help ANc win the by-election.

Since ODM honchos had variously and publicly declared that they had the system at their beck and call, they smelt betrayal.

This was a rude awakening to the Raila team that they were outsiders in government. Whatever the case, President Kenyatta by design or default through his actions has caused political panic among key national players.

The Raila-Ruto alliance discussion was thus more a reactionary process than vision-oriented initiative.

However, such alliances have been the products of Kenya’s election-eve negotiations as well as the bane of our political instability.

Raila started it in 2002 through Kibaki Tosha, to the 2013 UhuRuto marriage of convenience. The possibility of RaiRuto alliance cannot be ignored in spite of its dangers.

Kenya is multiparty democracy protected by the Constitution. This presupposes that political competition will be based on party ideologies.

Citizens cast their votes according to how well the political parties persuade them through their manifestoes, which are ordinarily a response to national challenges from their respective ideological standpoints.

Ideologies distinguish parties from each other. Party founders establish their philosophical framework and philosophy to shape their vision and activities.

In mature and properly working democracies, citizens vote for parties and not individuals.

The parties thereafter get allocated electoral seats on the basis of their share of the vote tally. In parliamentary democracies, this determines the party with majority seats to form the government.

In pure presidential democracies, this defines the majority and minority sides of the legislature. In party ideological inclinations, there are those considered left and right.

On the left are socialist and welfare-oriented parties, while on the right are capitalist and conservative parties.

On both sides would be liberal as well as centrist-based parties. The extent of liberalism or centralism determines how close a party is to the centre.

Leftist parties that are liberal tend to be close to the centre for example ODM, the Social Democratic Party of Germany and the Labour Party of the UK. On the far-left, examples would include the Communist Party of Kenya, the Green Party of Germany and the Economic Freedom Party of South Africa.

The liberal rightist parties would be the Jubilee Party in Kenya, the Republican Party in the US, CDU/CSU of Germany and ANC of South Africa. On the far-right would be Kanu in Kenya, CCM of Tanzania and Likud Party of Israel.

In terms of party alliance building, it is expected that parties would coalesce on the basis of their ideological orientation. Therefore, parties in the left would easily establish pre or post-election alliances or coalitions. The same would apply to the parties in the right.

It is highly unlikely that parties would cross the ideological ribbon to form alliances and coalitions haphazardly.

It is in light of this background that any pre-or post-election alliance between Raila and Ruto can only be to further their respective selfish interests. This would further undermine the principle of multiparty democracy upon which our political organisation is based.

Raila has established himself as a left-leaning political icon.

He is pro-liberal democracy and has spent almost his entire life championing the ideals of social democracy. He, therefore, belongs to the centre-left in terms of ideological orientation.

In his early days in political socialisation, Raila’s radicalism easily put him in the ranks of the far-left. Ruto, on the other side, was inducted into the halls of politics as a redhead Kanu operative.

As the ideologue of YK’92, the economic and human rights activities associated with him are consistent with the political extremism of the ideological far-right.

It is only the defeat of Kanu in 2002 and his struggles in the opposition trenches that mellowed him and pushed him a bit to the centre. He, therefore, belongs to the centre-right in terms of ideological grounding.

His party Jubilee and the expected presidential campaign outfit, UDA are both conservative political movements. The political and economic philosophies of the ideological right are starkly different from those of the left.

The manifesto that Raila would develop is expected to be radically different from that of Ruto.

The support base that they should be able to attract is as well expected to be clearly differentiable. It is therefore anti-democracy to push for RaiRuto alliance. It can only serve parochial interests and an unbridled appetite for power.

The two have a responsibility to support multiparty democracy by word and deed. They should therefore maintain their respective political lanes and compete honourably.