Voting patterns of urban dwellers in informal settlements : a case of Kibera and Mathare, Nairobi
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Ethnic voting is prevalent in African politics, where policies that form the basis of provision of public goods are not all-inclusive but rather disintegrate along ethnic lines. Patronage politics have impeded development for a majority of African countries as those who have access to political power are seen to favor their co-ethnics, thereby alienating other ethnic groups. Across the developing world, the state has failed to deliver social redistribution especially to those that are disadvantaged. Ethnic groups therefore provide what the state cannot. In Kenya, patronage politics continue to inform policy and the day-to-day operations of government institutions where ethnicity has been efficiently used to maintain the status quo of ruling elites together with their co-ethnics while intentionally leaving out other ethnic groups in the provision of public goods and access to state power. The electoral process in Kenya is an ethnic census where the country is largely divided along ethnic lines. Poverty as a main challenge for the growth and development of Kenya is therefore strengthened especially where political power is seen to only favor the elite and the affluent in society. The adverse effects of poverty are seen and felt by a majority of slum dwellers who continue to live in deplorable conditions mostly because of the lack of an imperative will by political leaders to unify Kenyans, thereby instilling a shared sense of national prosperity for all. This study, therefore analyses the voting patterns of the urban poor in Nairobi slums; with an aim of understanding what influences their voting choices when it comes to elections and if and how ethnicity also informs their choices.