Book Review: Presidential or Parliamentary Democracy in Kenya: Choices to be made by Prof Anyang’ Nyong’o

This book was launched at the University of Nairobi – UoN in late 2019 and I was more excited as other students of Political Science.

Most of it is formed by the collection of the Professor’s thoughts as written in various local newspapers.

As the current Kisumu County Governor and Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) Party member, Prof Nyong’o expressed the deepest desire of the orange party in this book.

The book analyses the differences between presidential and parliamentary systems of governance and discusses the practical effects of these divergent constitutional arrangements.

Prof Nyong’o, himself a lecturer in the political science department at the UoN argues that, presidential systems have been bad for Kenya as it emphasizes the tyranny of exclusivity and ‘winner takes all’

“if therefore, no presidential election except two have produced legitimate results out of the twelve presidential elections held since independence, what makes anybody in Kenya have faith in Presidential system as a good option for choosing governments that will guarantee legitimate and stable democratic governance?”

It is the same motive that drives the BBI – Building Bridges Initiative, thoigh not all-through.

Personally, I have supported the handshake since it means that Luo people will have a chance to live their full lives away from the disruption of that cycle by police bullets tearing down the lives of youths, elderly and leaving that society in tatters.

ODM leader Raila Odinga (left in blue) gave a keynote speech at the launch of Kisumu Governor Professor Anyang Nyong’o’s (right in suit) book.

Debate is the tested way to ensure politics of reason overcomes the politics of fear, whose result often is hatred and division, which, unfortunately, is getting mainstreamed here. As a country, let us not threaten our citizens against debating their future. #NyongoBookLaunch – Raila wrote on Twitter

As for Presidential and Parliamentary, Kenyans have a suspicion of the continuation of the rules by those people that have always ruled over them. However, it might be a myopic.

It is sectarian because it believes that Kenya will continue being the same socio-politically. But the cynics also have a point, our elections have always been decided abroad, and who wouldn’t be suspicious about a parliamentary system that will make that easy from now on.

Anyways, it might be better than bloodshed on the streets after every election.

Kenyans have in the past tried to reign in on the excesses of the presidency by creating institutions and laws for that reason.

Prof Nyong’o even argues that, ‘it was a mistake to preserve a presidential system of government and only to create structures around it meant to keep it in check”.

“This experiment has failed!”, he emphasizes.

He concludes by stating that a ‘parliamentary democracy gives people much more latitude to tame a leader gone rogue that a presidential system”.

For a man with numerous academic certificates, Prof Nyong’o writes in impeccable English. However, some of his points can be challenged as I have above. Nonetheless, his augments are catchy.

Students of Political Science should get this book and re-read.