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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Staging democracy: Kenya's televised presidential debates
Authors:Moss, Natalie
O'Hare, Alasdair
Periodical:Journal of Eastern African Studies (ISSN 1753-1063)
Geographic term:Kenya
election campaigns
External link:https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/17531055.2013.869929
Abstract:Kenyan election campaigning took a novel turn in 2013 with the introduction of televised presidential debates. The two debates were widely celebrated as signalling a positive turn in Kenyan campaigning, from the politics of personality and ethnicity towards a more sober, issue-based form of electoral competition. Organized by the nation's main media houses, the debates offer a unique lens through which to consider the role the media defined for itself during the election period. This paper argues that the debates were staged as part of the media's broader project of 'peace promotion'. In this way, actual debate between the candidates was of secondary importance to the spectacle of having all eight candidates amicably share the debate floor. This paper's approach thus emphasizes the theatrical nature of the performances and the deliberate way in which they were designed to present a portrait of Kenya's maturing democracy. The paper concludes by situating these media spectacles within what is perceived to be a broader trend in Kenya whereby seductive images of the nation's future are produced and projected, thereby distracting from present realities. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]