Kenya is approaching its next round of elections; and although close it is clear that the process is unlikely to throw up any real surprises. The entitled highland elite – across the political spectrum – will continue to dominate the distribution of power and wealth. And even if Odinga makes the breakthrough he and his group covet so much, it is not clear than even then a new form of politics will have gripped the country.

Insight from ISS is here.

But it is possible that the real issues facing Kenya are not those on offer to the electorate in 2017.  There is no doubt that the country can carry off a credible election; and that despite likely outbreaks of violence, things will be kept manageable.  The national consciousness is still scared by the election violence of 2007.  And the question of whether or not there might be violence is yesterday’s news to most Kenyans.

The real – much more existential – question facing Kenya is about the next elections.  What will it take to break the strangle hold of the highland elites on the body politic?  How much longer can they go on taking it in turns to “eat” as Michela Wrong might put it?  The insecurity and generally hostility of the northern parts of Kenya mean that not very much attention is focussed on those parts.  But the (relative) wealth of the beef herds, and the demographic changes expected to seize Kenya leave one wondering if the highlanders have ben considered the prospect of a change driven by the communities – ethnic Somali and others – from the north.

Is it possible that the 2017 election is not the key one?  Is it possible that the next election might deliver a seismic change in Kenyan politics which will leave the country’s traditional allies and partners wondering quite what happened to their influence and “eating” opportunities?  Perhaps.