What should worry Ruto ahead of 2022 polls

Does William Ruto intend to win the presidency in 2022? From the look of things, it appears that the Deputy President may have given up on this goal. Just this week, the Treasury projected that by the time President Uhuru Kenyatta retires from office, the Jubilee Administration will have pushed the national debt to over Sh7 trillion. That is more than Sh5 trillion more than the total value of the national debt back in 2013. In addition, Kenyatta has saddled Kenyans with deeply unpopular taxes. These factors, combined with reports of graft and government inefficiencies, will continue to sour the public to the Jubilee Administration over the next four years. Simply stated, Ruto may lose the 2022 election even before he starts campaigning to succeed Kenyatta.

This is not how things were supposed to play out. Political Scientists have long argued that governing political parties work best when they are structured to incorporate overlapping generations of leaders. That is, if the party dynamics are such that incumbent older leaders feel indebted to future younger leaders, and therefore work to guarantee the future leaders’ electoral success. An implication of this observation is that under such parties, incumbent leaders and administrations work to meet voters’ demands with a view of priming future leaders to claim credit for specific successes.

The initial organisation of Jubilee Party seemed to incorporate elements of an organisation designed to incorporate overlapping generations. After Kenyatta, Ruto was tapped to become the new leader and continue the party’s rule. Yet this arrangement appears to have escaped the Jubilee Party. Presently, Kenyatta seems to be willing to burn Jubilee’s political capital with a view of securing his legacy. This includes imposing unpopular taxes on Kenyans, failing to stop grand corruption in government, and starting expensive pet projects that may not yield the intended results.

These are things that should worry Ruto. And it is for this reason that Ruto should start thinking about things to do to ensure that Jubilee retains power in 2022. A better version of Jubilee would be one that creates incentives for the Administration to deliver on their promises.

SEE ALSO :Ruto: I will not let Raila split Jubilee over handshake

So what might we learn from Ruto’s reaction to the state of affairs thus far? First, it might be the case that Ruto is not planning to run for president in 2022. Again, the argument for this claim would be that if Ruto were really planning to be president, he would be doing a lot more in the present time to ensure that the government effectively delivers on its campaign promises. Second, it could be the case that Ruto is planning to run for president on top of a party ticket other than Jubilee. This claim would be consistent with Ruto’s lack of concern for protecting the Jubilee brand. Finally, it might be the case that Ruto has not considered the implications of Jubilee’s performance on his chances of winning the 2022 election. This claim would be consistent with how he has been campaigning so far – focusing on wooing ethnic elites and not the public.

- The writer is an Assistant Professor at Georgetown University

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William Ruto2022 election