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1General elections in Kenya have been moments of great expectations and social anxiety. They are tension packed, conflict-ridden and passionate-driven processes not only because they offer the prospect of ushering in new sets of leaders and political visions but more so because they confer power and control over economic resources and social opportunities. They have the potential to facilitate transition to more democracy and economic transformation or, on the contrary, undermine social, political and economic change through patronage, corruption and autocratic governance. Academics can contribute to our understanding of such transformative moments through deep reflection and knowledge sharing as has been done in this volume.

2This book is a multi-disciplinary approach to the 2013 general election in Kenya. It carries research undertaken by Kenyan and French academics and seeks to provide insight into the event itself as well as factors and circumstances that shaped it. Methodologically, most of the papers adopted an ethnographic approach and relied on in-depth interviews and on-site participant observation. These approaches, combined with field studies and extensive literature review, provide the writers with the tools they require to share their reflections on the key issues facing Kenyan politics. The volume builds on the growing body of literature on Kenyan general elections especially since the reintroduction of multiparty political engagement in 1991. The research project shows how voting is linked to identity, cooptation and patronage, power struggles and economic challenges.

3The organizations involved in the production of this book – French Institute for Research in Africa, Afrique Contemporaine, Agence Française de Développement, Heinrich Böll Stiftung, De Boeck, and Twaweza Communications share the belief that although regular free and fair elections are not a sufficient condition for the evolution of a democratic state, they are a necessary condition. They pave the way for the strengthening of governance institutions that buttress democratic practices.

4Another volume on the 2013 general election will be released in 2015 through a partnership involving Twaweza Communications, the Heinrich Böll Stiftung and the Goethe-Institut. The book comprises of multi-disciplinary reflections by scholars based in Kenya. It looks at the drivers of the general election, sources of the mandate to lead and what needs to be done to make Kenyan electoral politics free, fair, inclusive and democratic. Taken together, the two volumes greatly enhance perspectives of the 2013 general election. We believe that this volume will open up important discussions on general elections in Kenya. It provides analyses and insights on the country’s history and increases our understanding of the political trajectory necessary for greater democracy.

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