Inclusion of Democracy by political parties through transparent party primaries


The role of political parties in elections cannot be gainsaid; for they provide the most important platforms for access to political office. It therefore goes without saying that strong and sustainable political parties are imperative for the development of an open and democratic state. Such parties represent citizens and provide policy choices that demonstrate their ability to govern for the public good. It is in recognition of this fact that the constitution contains extensive provisions on the institutionalization and democratization of political parties. The conduct of party affairs and specifically party nominations are key processes in the electoral process during which parties set a basis for good governance or lack of it through their choice of candidates.

The political parties in the preparation for and conduct of party primaries, nominations of candidates to the party lists and participation in the elections must adhere to a set code of conduct which highlights certain key responsibilities that the Constitution of Kenya 2010 envisions for political parties in the realization of constitutional principles including integrity of leaders, representation of marginalized groups and free and fair elections.

To assist Kenyan political parties, perform the role prescribed for them in the electoral process, the Office of the Registrar of Political Parties (ORPP) in partnership with the National Democratic Institute (NDI) developed a Checklist for Political Party Elections and Nominations Rules in light of recent amendments to the electoral and political party laws



The main purpose of this checklist is to outline benchmarks and basic requirements of nomination rules for all registered political parties. The checklist addresses minimum requirements in accordance with the Constitution of Kenya, 2010, Elections Act, 2011, Political Parties Act, 2011, Leadership and Integrity Act, 2012, and other relevant laws governing political parties in relation to party nominations. The nomination rules of all political parties must strictly comply with the Constitution and relevant Kenyan laws and be in accordance with the Party’s Constitution. Additionally, they need to respond to key issues itemized in this checklist.

Conversely, the checklist does not provide templates of how to address every issue. Instead it requires that the Rules developed by Parties address the issues arising out of individual Party primaries, in a manner satisfactory to the party and in compliance with the Constitution and relevant laws in Kenya. Specifically, they should comply with the requirements of Articles 10, 88, 91 and Chapter 6 of the Constitution and the Second Schedule of the Political Parties Act, in particular Rule 19 in the Second Schedule. In accordance with the requirement of Article 88, the rules must promote Free, fair and peaceful nominations and campaigns. The rules should guarantee and ensure free, fair, transparent, accountable and peaceful electoral process within and outside the party, including party nominations. The rules should define eligibility criteria and processes. In addition, they should contain provisions to tame violence and provide effective dispute resolution mechanisms and provide for the right to seek redress from external dispute resolution mechanisms as created by law. The party nomination rules should stipulate specific measures to ensure that no gender occupies more than 2/3 of the elective and appointive positions in the party.

Further the rules should address the parties’ strategies that seeks to meet the constitutional requirement that no gender gets more than two thirds of elective positions as part of its process of nominating candidates for national and county elections. The rules should address representation and participation of Special Interest Groups which includes women, youth, persons living with disability, ethnic minorities and marginalized groups


The most fundamental questions that arises in the mind of every Aspirant to a political office is, and which in the recent times seems to influence the choice of the Party which one elects to use as a vehicle to political office are inter alia; Do the party primary rules serve to promote democratic, free, fair, transparent, accountable, inclusive and participatory, non-discriminative, credible and peaceful internal party nominations? Do the party nomination rules provide for the organization of party primaries in a manner that is realistic and implementable from a financial and logistics perspective? Have staggered nominations been considered? Do the party primaries rules prescribe the criteria, procedures and circumstances under which non-competitive nomination methods, including direct nominations and consensus can be employed? Do the party primaries rules provide for eligibility criteria for the purpose of vetting of aspiring candidates?

Does the eligibility criteria comply with Chapter Six of the Constitution and other relevant statutes? Do the rules contain other additional qualification requirements outside the provisions of statutes for candidates for instance, category of membership or period of membership in the party?
Establishment and Functions of a Distinct Organ to Manage the Party Primaries

Has the party established an independent Party nomination body/ organ(s) such as committee,
board or panel to conduct its party primaries? How and by whom are members chosen to such a body/organ and what are the basic qualities and qualifications of the chairperson and
members of the nomination body/ organ? Do they have to have been members of the party for a specific period of time before the set date for Party primaries? Is the election/selection process of the body /organ spelt out and available and accessible to party members? Is there any vetting mechanism to ascertain the integrity of the nominees or appointees to such a body/ organ? Does the composition of the body/organ reflect regional and ethnic diversity including special interest groups? Does the composition of the body/organ respect the gender requirement making sure that not more than 2/3 of the members are of the same gender? What are the specific mandate and functions of such a body/organ? Do they have a detailed Terms of Reference (TOR) or any other detailed guidelines? Do the rules vest power on the body/organ to make final determination on those validly nominated as candidates on the party ticket without undue interference from any other.


Procedure for Identification of Candidates

Who qualifies to declare interest for each of the positions in the party primaries? Is there a requirement that a member eligible to be a candidate must have been a member of the party for a specific period of time prior to the party nomination? What is the procedure for identifying or declaring interest to be a candidate for elections on the Party’s ticket? Who can identify candidates for the various positions What are the ethics and integrity requirements for aspiring candidates? Are there any procedures for vetting, interviews or shortlisting as part of the Party promoting transparency?


In the run up to the upcoming Party primaries, both the Party members and the aspirants must be well educated on the provisions of the Party rules. We hold an informed position that every political party must undertake proper civil education at the grassroots level such that the citizens can democratically elect leaders of their choice to various elective positions.

We underscore in no uncertain terms the exigency for political parties and the state organs not to nip the bud of democracy in it’s bud and so water down the gains of the new Constitution 2010 but allow it to blossom to 1000 beautiful flowers.