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date: 12 April 2024

negotiated democracy

A Dictionary of African Politics

Nic Cheeseman,

Eloïse Bertrand,

Sa’eed Husaini

negotiated democracy 

A term widely used in Kenya to refer to the practice of agreeing how to distribute political positions in advance of an election. The phrase became popular following the introduction of devolution in 2010, when political and community leaders in some of the forty-seven newly created counties decided to come to pre-election agreements about the distribution of seats between rival ethnic groups. Part of the logic behind these deals was that arranging the outcome of multiparty politics in this way would reduce the stakes of the election and hence the prospects for ethnic violence. However, in some cases these negotiations themselves proved to be highly controversial, especially after some of the participants claimed that the initial terms of the deals that they had struck had not been honoured.