Political Science Essay Paper on Measuring Level of Democracy of Kenya

Measuring Level of Democracy of Kenya

Kenya is one of the nations in Africa where democracy is practiced. “Polity 4 has rated Kenya as democratic and freedom house has rated Kenya as partly free” (Held 34). The criteria to measure Kenyan level of democracy will be based on voting rate, citizenship, judiciary, and other legal factors. The following is my own scientific criteria of measuring the level of democracy in Kenya.


In Kenya, no citizen is excluded from voting or joining a political movement and party. A democratic country allows all citizens participate in electoral process and exercise voting rights. The level of Kenyan democracy in regards to citizenship is high where Kenya issues citizenship to immigrants who have stayed for more than seven years and does not exclude permanent residents that come from dissimilar tribal group. These criteria of measuring democracy states that a democratic nation should provide candid methods for new inhabitants and immigrants to obtain citizenships in a given period. In Kenya, immigrants are granted citizenship after staying for more than seven years through a straightforward procedure.

            In addition, the Kenyan constitution does not remove the voting right from the citizens. This criterion shows that the level of democracy in Kenya is moderate and democratic. Kenya only removes the voting right from a citizen on condition where the individual is mentally ill, imprisoned or formerly imprisoned in the country. Kenya considers removing the right of voting form a citizens as a form of punishment to law breakers. Every citizen in Kenya above the 18 years is legitimate to vote regardless of geographical location, ethnic group, social class, economic wellbeing, and political stands. Kenya allows a citizen to settle before voting in cases of relocation.


This scientific criterion tries to measure the level of Kenyan democracy through how votes are counted. Upon establishing how to acquire citizenship and who can vote in Kenya, measuring level of democracy will depend on the fairness of counting votes. Unfairness in voting process occurs when a country has uneven sizes of wards from where the selection of people’s representatives is done. This is perceived that other votes matters than others. The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) manage processes of elections in Kenya (Tannsjo 67). The commission facilitates the democracy of voting by performing duties such as delimitation of electorates, guiding of political parties, education of electorates, resolving of electoral disputes and other functions that ensures democracy is maintain. This criteria show the level of Kenyan democracy in terms of fairness and just elections of leaders. Recently women in Kenya have equal chances of participating in election and vying for leadership unlike before where women were tied with cultural beliefs that women cannot lead.

            In Kenya, the electoral commission prohibits actions that influence voters from voting. In previous periods, Kenya was suffering from ethnic fights during the electoral periods where voters were only chosen form a specific ethnic group and no immigrant could be allowed to vote. In the recent period, Kenya has improved the democratic rights by permitting all persons to vote and prohibiting corruption practices such as vote rigging, coercion of electorates, checking the contenders vying various positions, and controlling media from inciting voters. In addition, the participants who are unable to provide the required financeare disfavored compared to wealthy participants. This control of voting shows that democracy in Kenya is growing and may reach full democracy of nations such as United States and Australia.


A democratic nation has separation of executive and legislative function. In Kenya, the democracy was not exercised fully since the chosen leader will rule by degree. The old Kenyan constitution allowed a leader tobe elected with no time limits in office. The new Kenyan constitution has promoted democracy and fairness since leaders are allowed to serve only two terms in office and not vie again. In Kenya, various bodies and policies are enacted to give feedback of the leaders and their mandate. This policy involves the voters by consulting the public in elections and choosing leaders (Tannsjo 21). Countries that formulate all the policies and leaving members to follow and exclude voters is said not to be democratic enough. The legislationpolicies includerules and regulations of participants and political parties.


A democratic national consist of just judges and a fair judiciary system to enhance democracy. In Kenya, the judiciary system involves a panel of just, fair judges that handles elections disputes, and resolve peace. The act of selecting judges is done carefully in Kenya to ensure the selected judges have no interest in the parties vying for election; the judges must be neutral to ensure fair elections and democracy. This criterionmeasuresthe Kenyan level of democracy in terms of fairness in the judiciary system.


The role of executive in Kenya is to execute the policies that have been enacted by the legislature and the cabinet (Tannsjo 67). The Kenyan constitution promulgated in 2010 gives the executive the rights to oversee the elections and implement it in the 47 counties. The executive have the mandate to decide when the elections will be conducted and how vacant seats are filed with the right candidate. This criterion measures the level of democracy in Kenya in terms of fair execution of important decision that affects the citizens and government.

Application of Democracy Measurement

The different approaches of measuring democracy can be applied to Kenya and other nations to determine the level of democracy using the democracy index produced by the economist intelligent unit (EIU). The democracy index involves the measurement of the nature of electoral processes including free elections, government involvement in the electoral process such as checking the balances on government authority and voter turnout. This method can be applied to Kenyan democracy by public education of the voting system to reach to the illiterate people in rural areas to increase voter turnout. In addition, the democracy index measurement can be applied on Kenyan democracy through government fair regulation of electoral bodies, fair and free press and independent judiciary that is neutral on the political system of the country.

According to the EIU index, Kenya has a hybrid regime where it exhibits both democratic and authoritarian characteristics. To achieve full democracy, Kenya can implementthe democracy measurement to involve the voters on electoral process. “The measurement can be applied on government bodies including the executive, legislature, and judiciary” (Welzel 889). Appointing just judges and members of parliament that represent the voters or citizens will involve the public and this will increase the level of democracy. Currently, Kenya has not achieved democracy due to factors such as ethnic superiority, unequal ration of women and men leaders, low voters turn out. Kenyan should improve on the bills of right to give the disabled and minorities fair chances as dominant ethnic group’s position in leadership and government. Even the most democratic nation such as United States, the issue of gender and race remain potent factor in politics (Welzel 885). The measurement can be applied on Kenya to disentangle the chains of ethnicity and deep rooted cultural beliefs.


True democracies ensure they perform best for the interest of the bulk population (Acemoglu and James 70). Kenyan is a democratic country, but has several defects that hinder it to be a full democratic. According to polity 4 and freedom house, Kenya is among the few African nations that performs democratic leadership and partly free freedom of press. Nations such as Kenya are pulled down by the tyranny of the tribal groups that compose large populations and majority rendering the nation imperfect and autocracy. The solution Kenya imperfect full democracy involves gender inequality in leadership, dominant ethnic groups to rule repeatedly suppressing the minor groups and corruption. Government bodies in Kenya should improve democracy to include members of member race to hold positions in the judiciary system, executive, and legislature. Reducing the gap between the dominant group and minor group will improve the level of democracy in Kenya leading to higher voter turnover, reduction in corruption in citizenship process and reduction in autocratic leadership.

The measurement of level of democracy in any nation should involve taking into account all the imperfections and seeing outside the bracket of nominal determinants. Democracy improves when a country value the rights of the citizens (Glaeser et al 90). Every country requires the consent of the ruled to grow and reach full democracy. If the population of a nation withdraws its participation in the society, the nation democracy will fail and deteriorate. Increase level of democracy entails willingness, sacrifice, and not violent revolution.

Works Cited

Acemoglu, Daron and James, Robinson. Economic Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005. Print.

Glaeser, et al. Why does democracy need education? Journal of Economic Growth.12.2 (2007):   77–99. Print.

Held, David. Models of Democracy. Stanford University Press, 2006. Print.

Tannsjo, Torbjorn. Global Democracy: The Case for a World Government. Edinburgh University Press, 2008. Print.

Welzel, Christian. Democratization as an Emancipative Process: The Neglected Role of Mass Motivations. European Journal of Political Research, 45.1(2006):871-896. Print.