WP4: Democracy and economy in Uganda: A public opinion perspective

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Working papers
Bratton, Michael, Gina Lambright and Robert Sentamu

Surveys of Ugandan attitudes toward democracy and markets suggest that the country has achieved differential forms of success in the political and economic spheres, and that it faces different challenges in each. In the political arena, considerable progress has been made in mobilizing mass participation, but political competition has yet to be adequately guaranteed. This may not be surprising given that Ugandans, more than most fellow Africans, associate democracy with preserving social peace and national unity. While they express generally liberal interpretations of democracy, political competition via multiparty electoral processes remains a lower priority. Nevertheless, Ugandans are increasingly open to a wider choice of political options, so the major challenge at this stage in democratization is to further expand political competition. In the economic sphere, the opposite holds true. There are few constraints on economic competition, and the public is generally satisfied with the state of the economy. But many Ugandans feel that they have not yet benefited personally from the country’s economic expansion, and that the gap between rich and poor is growing. Expanding participation in the benefits of growth will therefore also be key to the long-term success of both political and economic reforms.