Multiparty politics has had an uphill struggle in Uganda, marked by a 19-year ban on party competition from 1986 to 2005. Voters overwhelmingly reinforced the “no-party system” in a 2000 referendum, then reversed themselves in a 2005 referendum that opened the field to political challengers.
According to the 2015 Afrobarometer survey in Uganda, public support for multiparty competition continues to grow: Seven in 10 Ugandans now say that many political parties are needed to ensure that voters have real choices in who governs the country. However, trust in opposition parties, which had been growing alongside popular support for multiparty politics, shows a significant decline in 2015. Further, only one-third of Ugandans say that the opposition “presents a viable alternative vision and plan” for the country, and most Ugandans believe that the ruling party is better able to address problems bedevilling the nation, such as fighting corruption, controlling prices, creating jobs, and improving health care. When asked what they consider the most important difference between the ruling and opposition parties, citizens are about as likely to say they “don’t know” or see “no difference” as they are to cite economic and development policies and the integrity and experience of party leaders.
These findings reflect public attitudes expressed in May 2015, well before the February 2016 general elections, in which President Yoweri Museveni claimed a seventh term with about 61% of the vote against 39% for opposition candidates, who alleged fraud and a climate of voter intimidation.