The dilemma of a Protest Vote
The fact that the August 8 elections is a two horse race (Jubilee and Nasa) is unarguable. And so is the fact that our president/next president will emerge from either of the behemoths. Within this fact lies the dilemma of a protest voter, the one who is neither inspired by Jubilee nor Nasa. But inspite of this, has to live within the confines of the newly forged government.
This voter is hard to convince, well versed and understands policy to the bone or at least to the extent which it affects her life. Her intention stands in contrast to that of the majority; those fighting to get their person in a position of power and those fighting to retain their own in power. She wants a strategy on how food prices will be reduced, where and how the money for free education will be raised, how corruption will be tamed, how jobs for the youth will be created, and how the national health insurance scheme will be enhanced.
Her questions remain unanswered, and where an attempt has been made to provide answers, they are unsatisfactory. So she fumbles in search of an alternative could be 3rd way alliance, or Joe Nyagah, Abduba Dida or Prof Michael Wainaina; who knows?. In theory of electioneering, if she casts her vote in protest, her vote counts towards the number her candidates get. However, in practical sense it doesn’t for her candidate will be more than a million votes away from the presidency.
Should many vote like her, they will deny both Jubilee and Nasa a victory in the first round. But how sure is she that her candidate of choice will not move on to betray her by endorsing one of the candidates in either of the two camps? A candidate who does not stand by the values she holds, by the dream she has of a just and prosperous mother Kenya. Either way, she will be forced to vote for one of the two in the second round(run off) should there be one.
Therefore, isn’t it easier to just vote as if she were voting in the second round? There should be a more progressive party amongst Jubilee and Nasa, right? But she knows a few senior party officials from both camps who have been indicted in corruption cases. Also, she detects a foul smell in the new faces rising within the ranks of these coalitions. She understands too well that they are in a rush to get a piece of the now expanded governance structure.
Voting for these two parties will be ignoring the facts listed above and having to deal with the guilt of trolling over her own morals. On the other hand, voting for an alternative, may just help in placing the worst of the two coalitions in power or deferring the hard choice for the runoff. Remember, not voting is not part of the protest vote and could lead to any of the enlisted scenarios. Ultimately, like other voters pertaking in the August 8 general elections, a protest voter has to make a choice. To protest against the tide with the hope of bringing in a new fresh government that works for and with the people, or against own values with the hope that the lesser evil will work just fine.