Communication and Youth Participation in Political Parties
Centre for Multiparty Democracy - Kenya (CMD-Kenya) and Venstre/Danish Liberal Democracy Programme (DLDP) have since September 2011 partnered to implement a project focusing on two components - communications and the participation of young people in political parties in Kenya.
Development of a communications guideline
The guideline 'Creating Effective Party-based Communications was developed and completed by CMD-Kenya with professional support from Ms. Hanne Tornager and financial support from DLDP, and it was launched and disseminated to 24 political parties in November 2012. The dissemination of the guideline happened at a strategic time when political parties had benefited from various communications trainings and needed to put to practice their newly acquired knowledge as the campaign period for political party primary elections set in prior to the election in March 2013.
In addition six political parties have successfully developed their individual comprehensive communications strategies. Likewise eleven political parties have set up communications teams comprising of party officials responsible for communications functions and representatives of various interests from the national executive committees.
Strengthend involvement of young people
The county debates organized for young people by CMD-Kenya with financial support from DLDP have been well attended across the country and the significant impacts have started to be felt.
It has been interesting to take note of the pro-active roles increasingly taken by young politicians who actively have participated in the debate in their respective counties in challenging practices that contravene basic tenets of democracy and at the same time being reasonable enough to unequivocally support initiatives that are of positive intention. It was also a great milestone to convene county debates in conflict stricken Lamu and Tana River counties and contribute to calming tensions and discouraging young people from succumbing to political incitement to cause violent conflict.
The county debates have shaped young people's understanding of leadership in the context of the new constitutional dispensation and the central role of political leadership in tackling societal problems. For instance, in the period heading into party primaries, discussions on various media channels depicted a positive drive where electorates emphasized more on the qualities, background and track record of the aspirant. The electorate is also increasingly than ever before seeking to be guided in their choice of leader on the basis of the credibility of their policies and the leader's integrity.
There has been an immense interest in the project from stakeholders involved in youth empowerment, the media and related activities. Through the National Youth Charter, which is another output of the county debates, CMD-Kenya is keen to encourage and firm up these interests into mainstreaming meaningful participation of young people ahead of the general elections in March 2013.
Young people are active in the ongoing political discourse on various provisions in the Constitution such as addressing gender parity in representation, devolution, and leadership and integrity. County debates have provided the appropriate platform for the young people to ask questions and get the right answers on these subjects. More important is that they are making contacts and pondering about how to strategically position themselves and influence the final outcome on these matters.