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News release

Ugandans show strong commitment to democracy but are increasingly dissatisfied with the way their democracy is working

15 Nov 2023 Uganda
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News release
Key findings
  • On average across 37 countries, the proportion of Africans who are committed to democracy – who prefer democracy and reject autocratic alternatives – has dropped by 8 percentage points over the past decade, from 47% in 2011/2013 to 39% in 2021/2022. Similarly, the share who perceive a full supply of democracy – who think their country is a democracy and are satisfied with the way their democracy is working – has dropped by 10 percentage points, from 39% to 29% (Figure 1).
  • In Uganda, 62% of citizens express a commitment to democracy, about the same level as in 2012. But the share of Ugandans who perceive a full supply of democracy has declined to 34%.
  • While there is great variation across countries in commitment to democracy, Uganda shows an interesting trajectory, with perceived supply of democracy constantly dropping while commitment to democracy shows a cyclical trend, rising and falling, particularly between general election cycles (Figure 2).
  • Like most Africans, Ugandans show strong support for democratic norms such as elections as the best way to choose leaders (83%) (Figure 3) and multiparty competition (79%) (Figure 4). But fewer citizens think their last election was free and fair (55%), and three-fourths (74%) say that multiparty competition “often” or “always” leads to violent conflict.
  • Between 2000 and 2005, Uganda looked like a supply-led regime, but since public opinion swung in favour of a return to multiparty elections after 2005, the country has had a more demand-led look, where demand consistently surpasses supply (Figure 5).

Uganda ranks high among African countries in commitment to democracy, but a declining share of its citizens think they are getting the democracy they want, according to recent surveys by Afrobarometer.

As in most of the 37 countries surveyed in 2021/2022, Ugandans’ commitment to democracy (or “demand for democracy”) far outstrips the perception of a full “supply of democracy” – a measure of satisfaction that has been on a declining trend since 2015. 

Ugandans show an interesting demand and supply trajectory, with perceived supply of democracy dropping while demand for democracy follows a cyclical pattern, rising and falling between election years. 

While support for multiparty competition has been increasing in Uganda, so has the view that multiparty competition leads to political violence.