History says Raila will beat Uhuru pants down in #UhuruvsRaila2 runoff election

A few hours ago IEBC announced the new date for the fresh Elections, and it shall be on Tuesday, October 17, 2017, which is exactly 43 days away. Interestingly, although many lawyers expected the IEBC to allow all contesters in the annulled election to participate in the fresh election, only Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga together with their respective running mates will be the candidates in the October 17 rerun. Well, we can now say that the fresh election in which history says Raila will beat Uhuru pants down is nothing but a runoff election.  Check out this article for the differences between fresh election, rerun election and a runoff election.

History says Raila will beat Uhuru pants down in the runoff like rerun election, but not everyone agrees. In an Interview in KTN News, a certain political commentator from Meru (or Tharaka Nithi) was of the opinion that President Kenyatta stands a better chance of winning the fresh election given that in all the elections that have been annulled in other parts of the world, the initial winner still emerged the winner in rerun elections. However, a friend over at Facebook posted that “history has always confirmed that no incumbent can survive a rematch in a political arena with the opposition”, and he had his reasons.

Given the two conflicting views, I was forced to dig into annals of history to check how the various candidates performed after annulments of their elections. This journey took me to 2004 when the Supreme Court of Ukraine nullified the runoff election pitting incumbent Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych against opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko, to 2013 in Maldivia when former President Mohamed Nasheed went head to head with Abdulla Yameen, and finally to 2016 in Austria when first round winner Norbert Hofer contested the election of Alexander Van der Bellen.

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In 2004, The Ukrainian Supreme Court annulled the country’s runoff election that was held in November 21, 2004 and ordered a repeat of the runoff. According to official Central Election Commission, the runoff election had been won by Viktor Yanukovych who was the incumbent Prime Minister. Viktor Yushchenko would however contest the results leading to the nullification of the runoff election. In December 26, 2004, Ukraine would go to the ballot again after the infamous Orange Revolution and this time round Viktor Yushchenko carried the day with a win of 52 percent of the vote to Yanukovych’s 44 percent.

In Ukraine, opposition leader won against incumbent after a runoff election had been annulled. In the runoff, the incumbent had garnered 49.5% of the vote against the opposition leader who had 46.6% of the vote.

In 2013, Maldivian Supreme Court annulled the first round of election in which former President  Mohamed Nasheed emerged the winner with 45.5% of the vote and Abdulla Yameen followed a distant second at 25.35% of the vote. Incumbent President Mohammed Waheed Hassan came fourth in the first round of voting with 5.13% of the vote. In this case therefore, the incumbent for the purposes of comparison will be former President Mohamed Nasheed who won the first round.

The first round of the Maldivian election was annulled, forcing all contesters to go to a second round which produced no clear winner as no candidate had the 50% or more of the vote as required by the country’s laws. The winner of the second round of the election was still Mohamed Nasheed who had garnered 46.93% of the vote against his still distant rival Abdulla Yameen whose performance improved to 29.72%. The two leading candidates were forced to go to a runoff. In the runoff, Abdulla Yameen beat Mohamed Nasheed with 51.4% of the vote. Nasheed managed to get 48.61% of the vote.

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The second case also tells us that whoever was second before the annulment can emerge second in the second round, but if the election is taken to a runoff then the second placed candidate can be propelled to the first position. What matters is that whoever was second before the annulment, just like in the case of Ukraine, became the President after the final vote.

Lastly we go to Austria that annulled her presidential election just last year. In Austria, the incumbent President  Heinz Fischer was not eligible for reelection as he had served his two terms, so the person that I will consider as incumbent for the purposes of this comparison is  Norbert Hofer who vied under the Freedom Party of Austria and won the first round of votes. Similar to Maldivia, candidates of the ruling parties Social Democratic Party and Austrian People’s Party were placed fourth and fifth respectively. The person who would give Norbert Hofer a run for his money is Alexander Van der Bellen who ran as an independent candidate.

Similar to Ukraine, there was no outright winner after the first round of election, forcing Norbert Hofer and Alexander Van der Bellen to go head to head in a runoff. In the first round Norbert Hofer garnered 35.1% of the vote against Mr. Bellen’s 21.3%. In the run off, Mr. Hofer had 49.7% of the vote against Mr. Bellen’s 50.3%. Mr. Hofer would however contest the runoff results forcing the constitutional court to nullify the election. Mr. Hofer then faced Mr. Bellen in a second round of runoff election in which Mr. Bellen widen his lead from 50.3% to 53.8% of the vote against Hofer’s 46.2% of the vote.

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On the surface, the Meru/Tharaka-Nithi political commentator may have used the Austria’s case as an example where the incumbent won an annulled election, but when we consider that Norbert Hofer was the leading candidate in the first round of elections and the candidate sponsored by a major political party, we can conclude that a runoff then a further annulment of the runoff gave Alexander Bellen the momentum he needed to spring from 21.3% in the first round of election to 53.8% after the final runoff.

In all the above elections, the one we need to dig deeper into is the 2004 Ukrainian election due to both the Orange Revolution and the fact that Viktor Yushchenko had to come from 14.2 million votes he got in the runoff to 15.1 million votes after the rerun of the runoff. In the runoff, Viktor Yanukovych had garnered the 15.1 million votes but he fell back to 12.8 million in the clean election.

Odipo Riaga
Managing Editor at KachTech Media
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