Following up on my last post noting the FRIDE study assessing democracy assistance in Kenya, here is a paragraph from a paper I drafted for the “briefing book” for our IRI 2007 election observation delegates. This is an example of the challenges faced in seeking to bolster female candidates while staying in graces with the powers that be:
While we at IRI try to train women candidates to do the most that they can with the least resources, and to find non-traditional sources of funds, the reality is that Kenyan political culture places heavy financial demands on those seeking office—from the fact that vote buying is extremely common, accepted and expected, to the fact that there is very little “free” or “earned” media available for races below the presidential level. Most women running for parliament will face daunting challenges financially. [On vote buying, 20% in our IRI/USAID poll admitted accepting money on this basis—I suspect the real number is significantly higher. A senior minister in government who has done training for IRI in the past explained unashamedly how in this year’s campaign he will spend twice what he has in the past, but will use his established practice of keeping crisp flat bills in denominations of 50, 100 and 200 KSh in his suit pockets as he campaigns, to be distributed based on the socio-economic and gender status of the potential voter.]
An interesting academic inquiry into vote buying in Kenya is posted here at the Working Group for African Political Economy.