Dr. Nick Wnajohi, a celebrated author in Kenya writes in his book, Political Parties in Kenya, that the world has generated different types of systems. Political systems contain political parties which are classified according to their number in a particular country.

The book observes that the categorization of political parties is also done by analysing their origins, economic, social and other conditions that led to their formation as well as their capability to compete for power.


Africa has towards the end of the last millennium and in the present millennium continued to undergo a political evolution. Popular political systems in Africa – a continent emerging from the western colonial rule, include the two-party, single party and multiparty.

Two-party system

This system has two major parties competing for power. There exist other political parties within the system, but they are usually small in size, and with a significantly minimal chance of getting enough votes to win an election.


Political scholars believe that the two party system has its roots in Britain where in the 17th century politics revolved between two political parties, the Whigs and Tories.

Single party system

The single party system has a dominant political party with organizational and membership capability of forming a country’s government. South Sudan is good example of a country in Africa whose system has one popular party enjoying dominance.

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Democratic Party

Although the Sudanese Peoples Liberation Movement (SPLM) remains popular in the country there exist other small political parties. Tanzania has a similar system. The country’s post-independence Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) continues to dominate.

The dominance of  strong parties in this system is however under intense pressure from small political parties that are joining hands in pre-election coalitions to strengthen their ability to win elections and form governments. Most Africa countries adopted the single party system after securing independence, and strongly resisted attempts to register new political parties.

Multiparty system  

This system represents a presence of three or more parties in a country. The system usually has about three strong parties which portray a real capacity to compete during an election and effectively fight for power. Intense pressure in Africa has pushed most of the continent’s countries adopt the multiparty political system. Excitement around the formation of new parties, in Kenya for example, ended up in the formation of many parties that only managed to deliver victory to the country’s major party.  

Political parties in this system have been merging to strengthen their fight for power or amalgamate to form a post-election coalition government.


The evolution of political systems in Africa continues, and such mergers have given birth to a new coalition party politics

Coalition parties’ political system

The emergence of coalitions in Africa has mainly been informed by the realization that small parties lack the financial, structural muscle and general strength to defeat the well structure major parties which have wider presence in the grassroots.


Coalitions have been very popular in Kenya. In 2002 a coalition of opposition political parties managed to defeat the independence party Kenya African National Union. Subsequent elections in 2007 and 2013 have been won by coalitions. Coalitions in the 2007 election that were disputed were not well organized as was the case in 2013.

The system has seemingly not occupied the space it should have taken as it is still under review. Current opinion leaders in the country’s party politics have already started a campaign to dissolve political parties in existing coalitions. If they succeed, the dissolution would lead to the formation of two major parties to compete for power in future elections.

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