Kenya Election 2013: Shifting Alliances Boost Odinga’s Prospects

Kenya will hold general elections on March 4, 2013, and the country’s electoral landscape has been shifted by changes to the electoral pacts that were announced in early December 2012. The most significant alteration is to the so-called Jubilee alliance between former cabinet minister William Ruto, Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi following the latter’s withdrawal in early January.

Mudavadi’s decision to quit the alliance appears to have been the result of a failure to agree on who the coalition’s presidential candidate will be. This deals a blow to Kenyatta, the Jubilee flagbearer, as it will diminish his share of the vote among the Luhya (Kenya’s second biggest ethnic group after Kenyatta’s Kikuyu group) in western Kenya.

On the one hand, Mudavadi’s withdrawal plays into the hands of the rival Coalition for Reform and Democracy (CORD), which has confirmed that Prime Minister Raila Odinga will be its contender in the presidential race and which also includes current Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka. Indeed, a Ruto/Mudavadi/Kenyatta ticket would have presented the most formidable challenge to Odinga.

On the other hand, the withdrawal of Mudavadi, who has since entered an alliance with fellow Luhya Justice Minister Eugene Wamalwa, is likely to diminish Odinga’s chances of a first-round victory as it will dilute the support that Odinga would have received by virtue of his representing what would have been the only major non-Kikuyu affiliated alliance. Although the political landscape following coalition announcements in early December suggested to us that the election would be a two-horse race between the Odinga/Musyoka and the Ruto/Mudavadi/Kenyatta alliances, we now believe that Mudavadi’s own coalition brings the number of major contenders to three.

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This Week’s Trivia Question

In our last weekly trivia question, posted on December 14, the theme was films set at Christmas time. We asked which 1980s action film featured a corporate Christmas party being taken over by terrorists? The hint was that it featured a Japanese company with an office in Los Angeles. The answer is of course Die Hard (1988), and the company was the Nakatomi Corporation. This week, sticking with the theme of imaginary Japanese companies, which early 1990s thriller featured a plot by Japanese companies to dominate the US economy? (This book seems ridiculously dated nowadays, of course.) And for a bonus, which early 1960s novel portrayed a California and Western USA controlled by Japan following its victory in World War II?