The parliamentary elections slated for mid September are just over three months away. Talk by different party officials for now is about the political muscle which they have been able to build since the last elections in August 2003.
Whereas we would not expect spokespeople to give negative accounts of their political parties so close to the polls since it would demoralise old members and discourage would-be new recruits, there is one undeniable reason to believe them on the issue of strength gained – young people who have since turned 18.
Inter-political party defections can drain one party while beefing up another. And the assumption that because there have been no reports of en-masse crossovers therefore parties have not sucked each other is faulty.
Clandestine membership recruitment is an age old strategy employed by political parties. Also true is the fact that children of party members who in the space of five years have come of voting age have most likely joined their parents’ parties.
And considering that the voters register has grown by approximately one million voters between now and the last elections, the additional numbers may as well be overwhelmingly attributed to the formerly underage now adults.
In spite of claims by virtually all parties to have grown stronger, they all are open to coalition considerations. Actually most of them are sounding like where possible it would be the option favoured over going it alone.
From the ruling and by far the most formidable Rwanda Patriotic Front – RPF, to PSD, PDC, PL, UDPR and even PPC, they are all talking the same language of giving coalitions a chance in the event that suitable circumstances presented themselves.
This is characteristic of current Rwandan politics of consensus. Given the country’s recent history of catastrophic divisions, it is reassuring that going into the future, political leaders are more willing to reach a compromise in the face of political diversity, than widen any differences that may exist.