The Republic of Kenya was given a new
constitution in 2010, after years of political struggles
surrounding its design. It means better balance of power
and increased decentralization. The president's former
far-reaching power has been limited in favor of a new
two-chamber parliament and some powers have been
transferred to 47 new counties with elected governors
and regional assemblies.
The Constitution guarantees citizens basic rights
such as freedom of speech and religion, equal conditions
for men and women, and the right for suspected criminals
to receive a fair trial.
Total population and chart of Kenya for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023 and 2024. Also covers population density, birth rate, death rate and population growth rates.
The former constitution was added at independence in
1963 but was amended several times. From 1982, Kenya was
officially a one-party state, but in 1991, multi-party
systems were incorporated into the constitution. The
changes gradually expanded the president's power.
The President has the executive power, leads the
government's work and is the country's
commander-in-chief. The president also appoints the
ministers, who according to the new constitution are not
allowed to sit in parliament.
Since the 2013 elections, the National
Assembly has 349 members elected for a
five-year term. Of these, 290 are elected by majority
vote in one-man constituencies and 47 are elected to
special places dedicated to women, one from each county.
The remaining 12 members are nominated by the largest
parties in accordance with the election results, and
will represent young people, people with disabilities
and workers. The President is elected by the other
members and becomes a 350th member. The National
Assembly is allowed to approve the president's election
of ministers, and has the opportunity to dismiss both
them and the president himself.
The Senate has 67 members: 47 who
are elected from each of the counties, 16 women
nominated by the largest parties and 2 representing
young people and 2 representing disabled people. The
senators also elect an outsider as president.
Presidential and parliamentary elections are held
every five years. Following a constitutional amendment
in 1992, the president may be elected for a maximum of
two five-year terms. To win in the first round, a
candidate must get at least 50 percent of the vote in
the entire country, and at least 25 percent in half of
all electoral districts. If no candidate succeeds, a new
round of elections must be held within 30 days between
the two candidates who received the most votes.
The voting age is 18 years.
Just over a month before the August 2017 election,
the Nairobi Court of Appeal ruled that the final outcome
of an election should be decided at the constituency
level, and not as before by the National Electoral
Commission. Action is taken to avoid electoral fraud.
The Kenyan party system is weak and ethnic belonging
often plays a major role in politics. Corruption is
widespread and political loyalty can be bought. It is
not uncommon for politicians to change parties. Before
elections, it is common for new parties and alliances to
form. Before elections, new parties and alliances are
often formed. Party splits are common and easily create
name confusion. At one time, for example, there were
simultaneously a Ford-People, a Ford-Kenya, a Ford-Asili
and a New Ford-Kenya (see below).
Ahead of the 2017 elections, 41 political parties
participated. All parties receiving at least 5 percent
of the vote in a national election are entitled to state
Prior to the August 2017 elections, there were two
dominant groups. The ruling Jubilee Party (JP),
which is President Uhuru Kenyatta's party, and the
National Super Alliance (Nasa) under
the leadership of opposition leader Raila Odinga (see
below). JP, is strong among the Kikuys, the Kenyan
people's group, which has long held a strong position in
Kenyan politics, as well as among the Kalenjins, the
people to which Vice President William Ruto belongs (see
also Current politics) and the smaller folk group Meru.
The opposition within Nasa largely represents groups and
regions that have historically been excluded from power.
Nasa is strongest among luo, to which Odinga belongs,
luhya and kamba.
An important difference between the two groups is
that JP wanted to gather a large part of the power in
Nairobi, while Nasa wants power to be decentralized. In
terms of economic policy, JP stands to the right of the
political scale, while at least Odinga's own party, the
Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), which
is an important part of Nasa, is to the left of the
JP had great successes in the parliamentary elections
in August 2017 and the Election Commission quickly
declared that Kenyatta won the presidential election.
However, the latter was rejected by the Supreme Court in
early September and a new election was held in October
of the same year (see Current Policy).
Kenya's African National Union
(Kenya African National Union, Kanu)
has long been the only allowed party. Kanu dominated
politics from independence in 1963. Party leader and
president was Jomo Kenyatta until his death in 1978,
when Vice President Daniel arap Moi took over as
president. Moi led the party and the country until 2002,
when Kanu lost the election. One important reason was
opposition to Moi's election of presidential candidate:
Uhuru Kenyatta, son of the former president. He was then
relatively unknown and lacked strong support in the
The contradictions surrounding Kenyatta's candidacy
led to a number of ministers leaving Kanu and joining an
opposition alliance called the National Rainbow
Coalition (Narc). The alliance
included representatives of all major ethnic groups.
Narc was described as a fragile reasoning marriage
between widely differing political parties and
politicians, many of whom had previously been bitter
enemies. Narc appointed Mwai Kibaki as its presidential
Kibaki and Narc won the 2002 election by a wide
margin. But Narc then fell apart, mainly because of
disagreement about the attempts to create a new
constitution. Gradually, parts of the alliance withdrew
completely and Kibaki was forced to bring in new
ministers. Among them were representatives of both Kanu
and the Forum for the Restoration of
Democracy-the People (Ford-People).
The original Ford was formed by six opposition
leaders when multi-party rule was reintroduced in 1991.
The party was divided into two in 1992:
Ford-Kenya and Ford-Asili. The
third, Ford-People, originated when Ford-Asili split in
In connection with a referendum on a new constitution
in 2005, the Orange Democratic Movement
(ODM) was formed. The leader was Raila
Odinga, who was a member of the government until Kibaki
kicked out ministers who opposed the constitutional
proposal. The movement became a party that split into
two parts in August 2007: ODM led by Odinga and
ODM-Kenya led by Kalonzo Musyoka. At the end of
2011, ODM-Kenya changed its name to Wiper
Democratic Movement-Kenya (WDM-K).
ODM and WDM-K reunited for the 2013 election in a
collaboration called the Coalition for Reforms
and Democracy (Cord), which
also included Ford-Kenya and a number of other parties.
Prior to the 2017 election, Cord was transformed into a
new multi-ethnic alliance under the name
National Super Alliance (National Super
Alliance, NASA). The alliance elected
Raila Odinga as its presidential candidate in 2017, but
the individual parties stood separately in the
parliamentary elections. The latter is considered to
have disadvantaged them, as Nasa allied candidates took
votes from each other, which played JP candidates in
their hands. However, the collaboration began to crack
down on the election (see Current policy).
In 2012, Uhuru left Kenyatta Kanu and instead became
a candidate for the 2013 National Alliance
In the same year, William Ruto formed the
United Republican Party (United Republican
Party, URP). Ruto had previously
belonged to Kanu and later ODM, and had been Minister of
the Interior, Agriculture and Education.
Deputy Prime Minister Musaila Mudavadi - who also has
been a member of both Kanu and ODM and held several
ministerial posts - formed the United Democratic
Forum (United Democratic Forum, UDF
or sometimes UDFP).
In December 2012 began Kenyatta's TNA and URP Rutos
to work for the election of Jubilee Alliance
(Jubilee Alliance). A couple of small parties also
joined the alliance that won the (slightly postponed)
elections in March 2013. In 2015, it was announced that
the Jubilee Alliance Party (JAP)
replaced the previous parties, but already in September
2016, parts of JAP merged with several other parties and
formed Jubileumspartiet (JP). In the
parliamentary elections JP got his own majority in the
Mudavadi and his UDF also joined the Jubilee Alliance
at first, but soon broke out again. UDF instead formed
Amani Coalition (Amani Coalition) with
several other parties. Mudavadi was named the new
group's presidential candidate in 2013. However,
Mudavadi left the UDF in 2015 to lead the new party
Amani National Congress (Amani National
Congress) which later joined Nasa.
Mombasa Republican Council (Mombasa
Republican Council, MRC) is a
separatist movement that wants to establish an
independent state around Mombasa, Kenya's second largest
city, which is also an important tourist resort. The MRC
was formed in 1999 in protest against what was said to
be discrimination and marginalization of the residents
of the then Coastal Province. The government calls the
MRC a terrorist group and accuses it of conspiring with
the Somali Islamist movement al-Shabaab, something the
group's leadership denies. The authorities banned MRC in
2010, but the ban was lifted in court in 2012.
A faction within Kanu claims that Kenyatta can no longer be leader of Kenya's
African National Union (Kanu) because he belongs to another party, and nominates
Nicholas Biwott as new party leader. Now there are two groups that call
themselves Kanu. Saitoti and Murungi, who resigned in February, are returning to
their ministerial posts, further eroding President Kibaki's credibility as a
fight against corruption. Several measures he has taken to remedy the widespread
corruption have proved to be half-hearted.
A new party is formed
ODM (see November 2005) is transformed into a political
party founded by Odinga and Kanu leader Uhuru Kenyatta.
Kibaki forms a new party
The government coalition Narc has fallen apart in its constituents. Ahead of
the election elections held after five MPs were killed in a plane crash in
April, the circle of hard-pressed President Kibaki is forming a new party,
Narc-Kenya. The new party will immediately have a seat in Parliament.
Ministers resign after corruption scandals
Three ministers are forced to resign because of investigations into two
notable corruption scandals: Finance Minister David Mwiraria and Energy Minister
Kirati Murungi because of the Anglo Leasing deal involving bribery and other
government procurement irregularities, and George Saitoti because of the
Goldenberg scandal involving looting treasury under Moi's rule in the 1990s.