Presidential candidates need national messages

In Summary

• Elog says Raila lost because of the 'handshake' and Ruto's 'Hustler' narrative

• The Hustler theme was national and appealed to voters in all corners of Kenya

A composite image of President William Ruto and Azimio leader Raila Odinga
A composite image of President William Ruto and Azimio leader Raila Odinga
Image: STAR

The Elections Observation Group has examined why Raila Odinga lost to William Ruto in the presidential election in August.

Their comments include the suggestion that the 'handshake' coupled with the Hustler narrative lost Raila the election.

Unlike Elog's more critical observations, this can be interpreted positively. Elections are increasingly decided on national concerns rather than ethnic loyalties.

Both Raila and Ruto appealed to communities outside their home areas.

But Raila's historic commitment to defending human rights was weakened when he joined the Uhuru government through the handshake.

Simultaneously, Ruto launched his 'Hustler' campaign which appealed to all those struggling to survive by any means. The Hustler narrative appealed to the disenfranchised in every corner of Kenya. It won Ruto the election (whether he delivers on what he promised or not).

The moral of the story is that in the 2027 election the candidates must find a message that appeals to all Kenyans. It will not be enough to play the game of ethnic arithmetic and hope that it will carry you across the line.

The winning candidate will need to have a Party for Workers, or for Farmers, or for Capitalists, or for Environmentalists, or for whoever.

Quote of the day: "Form follows beauty."

Oscar Niemeyer
The Brazilian architect died on December 15, 2007

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