As Kenya heads towards elections, concerns about the outbreak of electoral violence tend to rise. Existing research has offered several explanations for the violence. These include weak political parties, perceptions that elections are high stakes for different communities, and land grievances.
The evidence for these explanations is compelling. For example, the weakness of parties has meant that political patronage has usually trumped policy proposals in Kenya. In a related vein, grievances over the distribution of land have provided politicians with a powerful means to organize violence.
But researchers are yet to fully understand how, when, and why political elites succeed in encouraging ordinary citizens to engage in violent conflict. To better examine this issue, we conducted interviews with vernacular radio listeners in the Central, Nyanza and Rift Valley regions. We also interviewed political elites in Nairobi, Coast province and the Rift Valley.