Think-tank proposes US-style electoral college for Kenya

Prof Peter Kagwanja, CEO of the Africa Policy Institute

Prof Peter Kagwanja, CEO of the Africa Policy Institute

Kenya should adopt the Electoral College system used in the US to ensure the elected president has broad support across the country, a policy think-tank has proposed.

The Africa Policy Institute CEO Peter Kagwanja said the Constitutional provision meant to ensure a presidential winner enjoyed national appeal was not met during the March 4 General Election.

“The country should adopt the Electoral College Vote System so that it works concurrently with the majority rule for equal representation,” Prof Kagwanja said.

He said this was because a few regions with high population densities were able to sway the vote in favour of their preferred candidate leading to underrepresentation of minority and marginalised groups in the decision.

He was speaking during the release of a report by the institute on the recent elections.

Article 138 of the Constitution states that for a Presidential candidate to be declared winner he or she must garner more than 50 per cent of all votes cast and at least 25 per cent in half of the 47 counties.

“There’s no guarantee that even after a run-off the one who loses will accept defeat,” Mr Kagwanja said.

The Africa Policy Institute said Kenya should address the tendency by politicians to focus on the big five tribes — Kikuyu, Luhya, Luo, Kamba and Kalenjin — which constitute 70 per cent of the population, leaving the other 37 communities as makeweights.

Under the electoral college system the President and his deputy are not elected directly by the voters. Instead, they are elected indirectly by special electors in each of the 50 states as determined by the popular vote for a candidate in each state.

In 2000 the system sparked a dispute after Democrat Al Gore won the popular vote without clinching the 270 electoral college votes needed to enter the White House. The election was eventually decided by the US Supreme Court in favour of George Bush.

Judge Lee Muthoga of the Intellectual Resource Centre said the college system could only work in Kenya after the Constitution was amended.

“Counties should be structured to serve as the new electoral units instead of the constituencies as has been the case,” Mr Muthoga said.-Business Daily



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