Deepening Democracy through Multipartyism: The Bumpy Road to Uganda’s 2011 Elections

Sabiti Makara


The 2011 elections will be one of the several elections (and the second-ever multiparty election) organized by the National Resistance Movement (NRM) since it captured power in 1986. Despite the regular elections since the 1990s, the quality and outcomes of these elections have remained subjects of debate. Democracy has remained elusive in Uganda despite the re-introduction of multiparty politics. Incumbency advantages, manipulation and unconstitutional use of state resources and apparatuses, and removal of the constitutional term limits on the presidency have combined to hamper effective growth of multiparty politics and democracy in the country. The question is: Does electioneering necessarily produce democratic governance or does it simply create the conditions and norms necessary for institutionalization of democratic rule? In particular, does the existence of multiparty politics necessarily deepen democratic governance? This paper stresses that despite the return of multiparty politics in Uganda, neither has democracy been consolidated nor have elections acted as effective instruments for advancing democratization in the country.

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