Communication and Youth Participation in Political Parties

Political participation in Kenya has always been dependent on wealth and connections, gains that youth barely have access to. As such, Kenya’s political landscape has mainly been occupied by the elderly and well to do individuals with the youth remaining invisible and unable to push their agenda in most organs of governance.

Although youth are majority in Kenya, they are the least informed and least involved on matters of political representation and records show when involved it is for negative reason as youth wingers who see themselves as protectors, violators rather than voters for candidates. Kenyan youths participated in the 2008 post election violence in the most negative way possible by killing, maiming and looting. As the country moves forward, empowering the youth will be crucial if they are to be given a real opportunity to participate meaningfully and constructively in national politics.

Through the CMD - Kenya, Danish Liberal Democracy (DLDP/Venstre) and the Danish Institute for Parties and Democracy (DIPD) partnership, a youth project aimed at strengthening and consolidating political parties through an increased participation of the youth in a meaningful and empowering way is ongoing. Launched in November 2011, the ‘Communication and Youth Participation in Political Parties’ will also  see the strengthening of communication strategies and tools of political parties in Kenya to enhance internal and external communication processes, applying, among other things, innovative internet/Smartphone platforms.

The importance of planning communication in political campaigns cannot be gainsaid. The characterization of modern societies as “information societies” has become common place; in general, all societies are constituted by communication, as all social processes are performed by exchanging information. Kenya is a representative democracy thus communication between leaders and the led is a necessary condition for the political system to work. We envisage a time when young voters will demand to be informed about political programs, policy issues and political alternatives presented by candidates; on the other hand, young politicians seek to know the wishes and demands of those whom they are supposed to govern. The project takes advantage of the modest gains secured by the youth in the new Constitution by encouraging and stimulating a youth friendly environment within the political parties to strengthen the participation of Kenya’s growing youthful population and giving them space to make their contribution in the national development.