Kenya’s Supreme Court has ordered a new 2017 presidential election after finding irregularities in last month’s vote, and polls of potential voters along with election experts believe the results of the second vote could be remarkably similar to the first.
In the August election, Uhuru Kenyatta was elected with a little more than 54 percent of the vote, but the voting itself was marred by reports of irregularities, leading to the Supreme Court decision to order a new vote within 60 days. It was an unprecedented ruling for Kenya and will set up a new race between Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga.
There are fears that the disputed election could bring a recurrence of the violence seen after the 2007 election, ABC reported. After Odinga lost that race, he challenged the result and weeks of bitter ethnic battles followed, leaving more than 1,200 people dead. The fighting also helped to bring on a recession in Kenya, the region’s largest economy, and the economic slump fell to other neighboring countries as well.
In order to win the new election, Odinga would have considerable ground to make up. He lost by a margin of 1.4 million votes, garnering 44.7 percent of the vote compared to Kenyatta’s 54.3 percent. After the Supreme Court declared that a new poll must be held, many in Kenya wondered if Uhuru Kenyatta could win again or if Raila Odinga could rally enough support to knock off the incumbent.
Kenya supreme court annuls presidential election results, calls for a new poll to be held within 60 days https://t.co/U8ZvPWhSj2— Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) September 1, 2017
Based on the opinion polls taken before the first Kenya presidential election, Uhuru Kenyatta was expected to win by roughly the margin of the final vote. An opinion poll conducted by the Centre for Africa Progress in the week before the election found that 53 percent of voters backed Kenyatta compared to 43 percent for Odinga, the Standard reported.
While there has not yet been any new opinion polling conducted in the days since the new election was ordered, many experts believe that Uhuru Kenyatta will again be favored to win by close to the same margin.
The final poll by the Centre for Africa Progress was seen as remarkably accurate, especially given the difficult nature of opinion polling in a nation with close to 40 different ethnic groups.
“The Kenyan scene is quite tricky as voters’ decisions are not necessarily based on issues and manifestos but on tribe and regions. This makes voter representativeness near impossible,” Masibo Lumala, a senior lecturer at Moi University, told the Standard.
Lumala said that ordinary Kenyans often do not put much stock in opinion polls, but rather look to the results of the election itself. And judging by the vote on August 8, Uhuru Kenyatta is seen as the favorite to win the next 2017 Kenya presidential election, whenever it might be held.
[Featured Image by Andrew Renneisen/Getty Images]