The Power of Voting


There can be no more doubt that democracy is not just in crisis; it is in retreat. Although the methodologies and details vary, that is the unavoidable conclusion of the data crunched each year by the likes of V-Dem, EIU, Freedom House, etc.” With these ominous words, As Sy, Chairman of the Kofi Annan Foundation started his introductory speech at the presentation of the “Re-Imagine the Building Blocks of Democracy” 3-year global project initiated by the Democracy and Culture Foundation and presented at the Mo Ibrahim Governance Weekend (IGW) in Nairobi, on April 30, 2023. 

The Vice Chair of the Foundation, Anthony Kefalas, presented the Foundation’s strategy, the full range of the projects it is running and, in detail, the results so far from the implementation of the Building Blocks’ first year of roundtables and citizens’ panels. The project aims to come up with specific policy suggestions on the functioning of liberal democracy that would make it more resilient to the dangers it is facing.  

You can read Chairman Sy’s speech here.
You can see the presentation of DCF and the Building Blocks here.


On Sunday April 30th, 2023, between 12.00 and 13.00 am, at the Radisson Hotel (Upper Hill) and as part of The Ibrahim Governance Weekend (IGW), the Democracy & Culture Foundation presented its 3-year international project “Re-Imagining the Building Blocks of Democracy”. Already in its 2nd year of implementation which runs in 10 cities across the world (both the Global North and the Global South), it aims through a combination of experts’ roundtables and citizens’ consultations to identify, publicize and push for implementation specific policy proposals that would help Liberal Democracy meet the challenges of our times. The proposals concentrate on five main issues (building blocks) namely people, parties-money & influence, voting, information & disinformation and the balance between legislative and executive power. 

After the presentation, there was a six-hour (13.00 to 18.00) citizens’ driven consultation conducted by DCF’s partner, the ATLAS organization, on the issue of voting. Local citizens, in addition to those attending the Mo Ibrahim Governance Weekend who may wish to stay on, were asked to debate the issue of voting and come up with policy suggestions that may have either a Kenya-oriented or a universal application that, when implemented, will contribute to the strengthening of the functioning of Liberal Democracy. 

Some of the issues that were debated are the following: 

The vote is the foundation of democratic rule, but the uses and misuses of the ballot box are a permanent source of debate and dispute. Some issues to consider: 

·       Should candidates be vetted? 

·        Should voting be mandatory? Is mandatory voting compatible with democratic values? 

·       How should the identities of voters be verified?

·       Should voting be open to, say, convicts or non-citizens? 

·       Is there a political, technological, and social imperative to lower the voting age and will this help bridge the intergenerational gap?

·       Should primaries be mandatory?

·       Should terms be limited and or fixed?

·        How does the use of legislative tools and the management of information impact voting procedures and access to voting?

·       What is the relationship between an electoral system and representative democracy? The pros and cons of simple proportional voting vs political stability/instability?



  • Nerima Wako-Ojiwa, Siasa CEO
  • Clive Donnley, human rights activist 
  • Boniface Mwangi, photojournalist, politician and activist 
  • Dave Leichtman Director, Corporate Civic Responsibility, Microsoft Democracy Forward


Find more about the building blocks project here.

For more information: Elina Makri
                                        Colombe Cahen-Salvador

Register here

The 'Power of Voting' consultation in Nairobi is part of our 'Re-imagining the Building Blocks of Democracy' project and is supported by

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