Lessons from South Mugirango?

The victory, by a huge margin, of the candidate of the now-small FORD-People party, indicates that at least in this constituency voters were not all that concerned about supporting the candidate of the national ODM leadership and campaigned for by Raila, or the PNU candidate endorsed in person by Kibaki and Kalonzo. Likewise, it clarified that ODM has split in part as has PNU.

Obviously the Political Parties Act has not yet resulted in any real clarity about party membership and stability and “coalitions”–as long as individual MPs continue to be “free agents” and party labels mean different things from one week or month to the next the effectiveness of Parliament, and its power vis-a-vis the executive, will be constrained.

The electronic reporting of voting results seems to have worked, on this one-off basis. The election was not close. We know from December 2007 what can happen when complacency sets in about the performance of an Election Commission due to limited examples of past performance, but at least the IIEC seems to have made this work.

Obviously there was plenty of misbehavior by candidates and their supporters–not too much indication that people are really sobered by the experience of 2007-08. At the same time, there was heavy security and things didn’t erupt. And, people probably got to chose their candidate at the end of the day.