RAILA’S STRATEGY POST-2017
Raila’s 2017 coalition will play out after the poll day. The appearance of disunity in the opposition is actually part of the strategy. It is anchored on the possibility of a run-off
Otto von Bismarck once said, “Never believe anything in politics until it has been officially denied.” Last week, Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho denied he will be ODM leader Raila Odinga’s running mate in 2017. We can, therefore, confirm that, indeed, Joho will be Raila’s running mate. Let us now move on to a more important matter: Raila’s 2017 coalition strategy. Every political cycle brings forth fresh coalition formations, also known as mergers. Whether their formation is driven by desperation, calculated strategy or coercion, the goal is to form government. But only recently has the Kenyan political class got the hang of proper coalition formation. Prior to the 2002 ‘Eureka Moment’ where Narc was born, the opposition was a disorganised and feuding lot that allowed President Daniel Moi to survive two multi-party elections.
Since then, the permanent political intention is to calculate how many Kenyans can be herded into ethnic boxes, specifically for voting purposes and then to form alliances accordingly.
The genesis of mergers was in 1964, when Kanu swallowed Kadu. That arrangement, however, was more of a hostile takeover. The merger had no immediate electoral purpose. It’s sole motive was to ‘tame’ perceived and actual dissidents.
Another historical merger worth noting is the short-lived Kanu-LDP union in 2002, which saw the sacrifice of two Kanu loyalists, Joseph Kamotho and George Saitoti, by Moi all for the potential 600,000 votes that Raila Odinga was sure to rope in.
In this 2017 electoral cycle, coalition formation will take on new dimensions. This is because the incumbent Jubilee has consolidated and displayed its might. They are at every opportunity demonstrating numerical and resource strength. At the same time, Cord is crumbling. Their ethnic arithmetic is refusing to add up.
This is why Raila is crafting a new mode of coalition formation. Traditionally, coalitions require three things.
First, that it endorses a single frontrunner. Second, that it is multi-ethnic, or a crossethnic force that gets together to beat the ruling hegemony and third, that it is formed before the election.
Raila’s 2017 coalition will depart from the last rule and play out after Election Day. It’s formation, however, will very quietly precede it. In short, the appearance of disunity in the opposition is actually part of the strategy.
The post-poll coalition strategy is anchored on the possibility of a run-off. The intention is to come together after the Jubilee Party fails to clinch the 50+1constitutional requirement. Brilliant plan.
In a run –off, the winner of the first round never survives the second round, because all the runners up will consolidate their votes. In executing this strategy, there is only one statutory consideration that Raila must make: It is about his running mate. The Political Parties Act stipulates that when coalitions make internal power sharing plans, the arrangements must be deposited with the Registrar of Political Parties within stipulated timelines. So if Raila fronts Joho as his running mate, but with the secret intention of later forming a run-off coalition with either Wetang’ula or Kalonzo or both, he cannot ditch Joho in a whim. Unless of course they will have a pre-determined agreement, where Joho resigns or steps down for another running mate who will bring in their regional votes. Even then, Raila must bear the possibility of betrayal, that is, if Joho refuses to step down, his plan goes to the dogs. My advice to him would be to get Joho to sign an undated resignation letter before submitting the coalition arrangements. The risky thing about the entire run-off coalition is that there is a lot that is subject to judicial interpretation as regards timelines.
And the last place Raila would like to find himself is at the hands of the judiciary once again determining his electoral future.
IN THIS ELECTORAL CYCLE, COALITION FORMATION WILL TAKE ON NEW DIMENSIONS BECAUSE JUBILEE HAS CONSOLIDATED AND DISPLAYED ITS MIGHT