REGIONAL PARTIES

How do we arrive at healthy politics?

In Summary

• Raila argued that Kenyans should differentiate themselves on the basis of ideology, not on the biological accident of ethnicity

• He was speaking at his Karen home after the visit of Nation One leader Maina Njenga

Case for supporting political parties
Case for supporting political parties
Image: STAR ILLUSTRATED

On Monday ODM leader Raila Odinga warned against the proliferation of regional parties (see P6).

He said Kenyans should unite and only seek to be differentiated on the basis of ideology and policies. He said ethnicity is a biological accident.

Raila is absolutely right. If parties are based on ethnic alliances, then policies will be forgotten. The only issue will be to what extent an area can be rewarded with state resources if they win the election. This is not the best way to build a nation.

In theory, with two or three national parties, such as Jubilee and ODM, they should start over time to differentiate themselves on ideological or socio-economic lines. For instance, different parties could represent business or workers or farmers.

But unfortunately, it is difficult to legislate that there should only be large parties that bridge ethnic divides. It would stifle democracy if small parties were not allowed to emerge – they might be the future large parties!

Similarly, it is difficult to prescribe that the presidency should rotate between different regions or tribes. It might be desirable but how can it be enforced?

Quote of the day: "Mistakes are the portals of discovery."

James Joyce
The Irish writer died on January 13, 1941