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AN EXAMINATION OF VOTE BUYING; A CHALLENGE TO ELECTORAL CREDIBILITY IN KENYA

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AN EXAMINATION OF VOTE BUYING; A CHALLENGE TO ELECTORAL CREDIBILITY IN KENYA

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1 Background of the Study

Vote buying is a pervasive phenomenon that feeds corruption in the political system as a whole. In many democracies, giving money to voters during an election is a very common practice. This, however, raises questions about the efficacy of newly developing democratic institutions and the possibility that elections would produce better, more transparent governance. Beyond that, there is a long history of gift-giving and cash distribution to voters during political campaigns that is regionally diverse.

According to Yakobson (2015), vote buying was common during the latter part of the Roman Republic. Additionally, it flourished as a campaign tactic in Britain and the United States throughout the 18th and 19th centuries (O'Leary, 2016). However, in Africa, cash handouts have been documented in various countries, including Benin (Banegas, 2017), Ghana (Lindberg, 2020; Nugent, 2017), Nigeria (Bratton, 2023), Kenya (Vicente, 2022), and Uganda (Conroy-Krutz and Logan, 2021). Political candidates in developing democracies utilize money, often in the form of cash handouts, to secure the political support of voters.

Similarly, vote buying is rarely an isolated action, and it perpetuates corruption throughout the entire political system. When a candidate chooses to pay for support, rather than compete fairly for votes, they show a disregard for democratic norms and a willingness to use illegal means. According to Uwamahoro (2020) states that “if thay see that buying off supporters worked during the election, what is to stop them from using that strategy in other areas of governance?” In general, vote buying obstructs the democratic process by interfering with the rights of citizens to freely decide who will represent them and their interests. “This can result in the candidate with the deepest pockets winning the election, rather than the candidate who would best serve their constituents,”Kareem (2020).

Ideally, elections create a “social contract” between candidates and constituents who voted with the presumption that the candidates will govern along the lines of their stated policy platforms. According to international standards, in a true democracy every citizen has the right to stand for office, subject to reasonable restrictions. However, vote buying makes it impossible to meet these standards by penalizing potential candidates who are at an economic disadvantage. especially women and minority politicians (Uwamahoro, 2020). Additionally, it enables poor governance and undercuts citizens’ ability to hold their elected officials accountable. According to Uwamahoro, "a candidate will have no incentive to be responsive to issues their constituents care about — issues like water and sanitation, education, and unemployment — if they believe all they need to do to be elected is pay off voters and government officials."

Aside damaging electoral and the candidate’s credibility, vote buying deters aspiring political leaders from running for office because it suggests that money, rather than ideas or experience, is how to win an election. This discourages qualified candidates from running for office, while entrenching corrupt officials in their positions. Also, in places where vote buying is common, candidates face the dilemma of needing to mobilize most of their resources to buy the votes and assuming office with significant debts from campaigning. However, the absence of secrecy enables political parties to oversee the voting decisions of individuals who have received financial incentives, thus resolving an inherent issue of trust in vote-buying transactions (Stokes, 2015). In addition, the practice of vote buying persists in environments where the confidentiality of the ballot is firmly established and it provides insight into how cash disbursements can remain influential even in situations where parties are unable or choose not to directly oversee the voting choices of those who receive these incentives.

Beyond that, one implication here is that although it's crucial to have policies that enhance the secrecy of ballots, particularly in places like Kenya, these measures may not necessarily decrease the prevalence or effectiveness of vote buying. Instead, Baldwin (2020) after much argument and findings suggest that the effectiveness of vote buying diminishes when certain aspects of the structural environment undergo change. Also, in an instance, when political parties become more established and can offer more credible programmatic and material pledges, when a self-sustaining middle class emerges that doesn't rely on political connections with politicians for resources, and when politicians have less discretion in allocating state resources, reducing the citizens' need for a personal representative to deliver resources.Therefore, a survey will be conducted on an examination of vote buying; a challenge to electoral credibility in Kenya.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

Vote buying erodes the democratic values of free and fair elections. It implies that the electoral process is not based on informed choices and the will of the people but on financial transaction. Moreover, when election results lack legitimacy, instability can ensue if the results are contested. Further more, in a situation where voters are induced or coerced into accepting monetary incentives or gifts in exchange for their votes, it compromises the fundamental principles of a fair and transparent electoral process. This can lead to doubts about the legitimacy of the election.

Additionally, Kramon Eric (2016) asserts that access to information is a huge factor in determining the success of vote buying in Kenya. That if voters have little access to political information or lack political knowledge then they are more likely to be swayed by clientele’s reasoning. He further explains that citizens of Kenya tend to value candidates who provide rewards because their ability to do so points to how great their abilities will be once they are in office.

Further more, vote buying can erode the credibility of elections in Kenya by undermining the principles of fairness, transparency, and the democratic values that underpin the electoral process. It can also lead to perceptions of corruption and a lack of trust in the political system, ultimately impacting the legitimacy of elected officials and the governance of the country. Hence, it is in the light of these that the study seeks to examine vote buying; a challenge to electoral credibility in Kenya.

1.3 Objectives of the Study

The main purpose of this study is to assess the prevalence of vote buying in Kenya. Specifically, the study will;

  1. Determine the prevalence of vote buying activities during the 2022 Kenyan general election

  2. Identify the factors associated with menace of vote buying in Kenya political system

  3. Evaluate the effect of vote buying on electoral credibility in Kenya.

1.4 Research Questions

The following questions have been prepared for the study:

  1. What was the extent of vote buying activities in the context of the 2022 Kenyan general election?

  2. What are the key factors linked to the prevalence of vote buying within the Kenyan political system?

  3. How does vote buying impact the credibility of elections in Kenya?

1.6 Significant of the Study

An examination of vote buying; a challenge to electoral credibility in Kenya will be revealed to the government at various levels, policymaker, politicians, strategists, the electorate, election managers and residents in this study. Furthermore, it will educate political parties so that, instead of using money to purchase votes, they become more institutionalized and offer more genuine material and programmatic pledges. Also, it will inform voters of the consequences of selling their support to politicians or political parties.

Further more, the study will be revealed to the electorate as the information gathered will strengthen their levels of interaction and political participation processes. Additionally, subsequent researchers will use it as a literature review. This means that other students who may decide to conduct studies in this area will have the opportunity to use this study as available literature that can be subjected to critical review. Invariably, the result of the study contributes immensely to the body of academic knowledge with regard to an examination of vote buying; a challenge to electoral credibility in Kenya.

1.6 Scope of the study

The scope of this study is boarded on an examination of vote buying; a challenge to electoral credibility in Kenya. Theoretically, this study will determine the prevalence of vote buying activities during the 2022 Kenyan general election, identify the factors associated with menace of vote buying in Kenya political system and evaluate the effect of vote buying on electoral credibility in Kenya. Geographically, the study will be delimited to the people in Donholm, Kenya.

1.7 Limitation of the study

In the course of carrying out this study, the researcher experienced some constraints, which included time constraints, financial constraints, language barriers, and the attitude of the respondents.

In addition, there was the element of researcher bias. Here, the researcher possessed some biases that may have been reflected in the way the data was collected, the type of people interviewed or sampled, and how the data gathered was interpreted thereafter. The potential for all this to influence the findings and conclusions could not be downplayed.

More so, the findings of this study are limited to the sample population in the study area, hence they may not be suitable for use in comparison to other schools, local governments, states, and other countries in the world.

1.8 Definition of Terms

Vote buying: occurs when a political party or candidate distributes money or resources to a voter in an upcoming election with the expectation that the voter will vote for him/ her in the election.

Voting : an activity of choosing someone or something in an election.

Elections: a formal and organized choice by vote of a person for a political office or other position.

Credible elections: means electoral processes that enjoy considerable support and confidence of the citizenry.


This material content is developed to serve as a GUIDE for students to conduct academic research



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  • Methodology: Yes available


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