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Title:Voting on a constitution: implications for democracy in Kenya
Authors:Whitaker, Beth EliseISNI
Giersch, JasonISNI
Periodical:Journal of Contemporary African Studies
Geographic term:Kenya
External link:https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02589000802576657
Abstract:In November 2005, Kenya held its first-ever national referendum on a proposed constitution. After a contentious review process, 58 percent of voters rejected the final document. It is common in the analysis of Kenyan politics to rely on ethnic explanations; indeed, the referendum results cannot be understood without exploring ethnic cleavages in Kenyan society. However, an exclusive focus on ethnicity obscures other factors that influenced voters, including the controversial process of drafting the constitution, the mobilization efforts of the 'yes' and 'no' campaigns, and the perceived performance of the government. In the end, the referendum was seen as a positive step toward democratic consolidation in Kenya and raised hopes for the future. For the second time in three years, voters rejected the preference of the sitting government, which respected the results. Hopes were dashed, though, when irregularities marred the 2007 election and the announcement of contested results sparked a wave of violence. Under intense domestic and international pressure, the opposing sides reached a power-sharing agreement, as the need for a new constitutional order in Kenya became even more apparent. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]