Strategic alliances among the major political parties in Kenya: a survey of the challenges and coping strategies
Onyango, Donald O
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Strategic alliance is a popular concept that dominated headlines within the corporate scene especially in dynamic world of rapidly globalizing markets and industries. Political parties, like business organization also do forge strategic alliances, a scenario that has been observed among Kenyan political parties since dejure restoration of political pluralism in 1991. The role of strategic alliances in shaping political strategy in Kenya has significantly grown in the recent past. However, political leaders, unlike corporate executives, seemingly lack the skills and goodwill to sustainably navigate through the emerging turbulent political developments. A census survey of all the major political parties was conducted to establish the challenges and copying strategies of Kenyan political parties in strategic alliances. The political parties considered as 'major' in this study were those formally registered by the registrar of political parties and had more than one elective representation in parliament. The population of interest consisted of all the major political parties that have been in strategic alliance(s) while the targeted respondents were political parties' national officials charged with the responsibility of strategy development. A total of 12 completed questionnaires were obtained from the targeted population of 16 political parties listed for the census survey, this represented 75% tum out rate. The qualitative data was analyzed using conceptual content analysis while quantitative data was taken through the statistical package for social sciences (SPSS). The responses were coded and then analyzed using descriptive statistical measures and the results were presented using charts and tables for interpretation and discussions. The study found that the major political parties in Kenya encounter a number of challenges as partners in political alliances and the extent varies among the parties. The main challenges encountered to a very great extent were: Shifting political priorities/decisions, Lack of trust, and Leadership/power wrangles. An interesting finding from this study was that no cultural or ideological differences existed as a challenge among the political parties. The study also found that the main challenges facing political parties in alliances are not unique to particular party or specific coalition hence it was possible for parties to overcome the challenges by recognizing the key challenges ranked to a very great extent and great extent thereby focus on the appropriate coping strategies. From this study, it is evident that no political party can go it alone, be they political giants who have been in existence for long or ambitious start-ups. Strategic alliances among political parties in Kenya have become a necessity to win elections thereby access power. The study recommends that political parties need to move beyond the deal and structural aspect of alliance making to proactive management of relationships based on sound political ideology and value creation. The study further recommends that political parties in Kenya be institutionalized both internally through the enforcement of good governance platform of political mobilization and externally through continuous policy development and voters' education.