WP27: Insiders and outsiders: Varying perceptions of democracy and governance in Uganda

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Working papers
Logan, Carolyn J., Nansozi Muwanga, Robert Sentamu and Michael Bratton

The results of a second Afrobarometer survey in Uganda, conducted in August-September 2002, reveal that Ugandans continue to display a considerable degree of satisfaction with both their political and economic systems. But as memories of Uganda's traumatic pre-Movement past fade and the public's focus shifts from internal conflict and recovery to stability and development, there are also indications of increasingly critical assessments of the nation's other problems, especially economic ones, as well as waning patience with the government's efforts to address them. Moreover, there are deep differences in perceptions between those who can be characterized as "insiders" in the political system - those who express strong affiliation with the Movement as well as people from the central, eastern and especially the western regions - compared to political and social "outsiders" who hail from the north or are affiliated with opposition political organizations.

Northerners are far more deeply disaffected with the political and economic system, and there is a mounting gulf between them and the rest of the country, especially the politically much better connected western region. In addition, those who are politically affiliated with the Movement show a much stronger allegiance not just to the current government, as would be expected, but to the political system as a whole. Opposition partisans also do not seem to fully distinguish between the (modified) democratic political regime in Uganda and the Movement government that continues to rule it. At the same time, it is encouraging to find that Ugandans are far more strongly attached to their identity as Ugandans than to sub-national identity groups, and they remain almost universally committed to the unity and legitimacy of the state.