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Election Primer: Ugandans' Faith Shaken Amid Unrest

Election Primer: Ugandans' Faith Shaken Amid Unrest

Story Highlights

  • 36% of Ugandans confident in their national government
  • 32% confident in the honesty of their elections
  • Younger and older Ugandans share similar views

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Ugandans head to the polls Thursday to decide whether to give long-time President Yoweri Museveni a sixth term in office or usher in a new era with popular challengers such as Robert Kyagulanyi, who is better known as Bobi Wine.

Gallup surveys in Uganda conducted late last year show Ugandans' confidence in their national government was slipping amid the violent lead-up to the elections. In October, 48% of Ugandans expressed confidence in their national government, but after scores of protesters were killed and Wine was arrested for a second time in November, this number dropped to 36%.

Ugandans' confidence in their national government notably declined among those younger than 30, who make up the bulk of the country's voters, and those older than 30, who have typically supported the status quo. While the majority of Ugandans 30 and older (56%) expressed confidence in their national government in October, this percentage was 35% by late November and similar to the confidence levels among younger Ugandans.

Ugandans' Confidence in National Government Drops
October 2020 November 2020
% Confident % Confident
All Ugandans 48 36
Aged 15 to 29 42 36
Aged 30+ 56 35
Gallup World Poll, 2020

In this atmosphere, neither younger nor older Ugandans expressed much faith in the honesty of their election process -- which does not bode well for the prospect of post-election violence. About one in three in each age group expressed confidence in the honesty of the elections in their country. While these figures are not the lowest Gallup has measured in Uganda, they are historically on the lower side.

Younger, Older Ugandans Lack Confidence in Elections
Confident in honesty of elections Not confident in honesty of elections
% %
All Ugandans 32 62
Aged 15 to 29 32 64
Aged 30+ 33 59
Gallup World Poll, October 2020

The jobs situation in Uganda may also be on young and older voters' minds as they cast their ballots. Although rampant unemployment and underemployment disproportionately affects younger Ugandans, younger and older Ugandans share common ground on the poor job prospects where they live. Few in either age group -- about one in three in both surveys in 2020 -- said it is a good time to find a job in the communities where they live.

Ugandans Sour on Jobs Outlook
% Good time to find a job
October 2020 November 2020
% %
All Ugandans 33 32
Aged 15 to 29 33 32
Aged 30+ 33 31
Gallup World Poll, 2020

Bottom Line

Fearing post-election violence, Uganda has deployed its military ahead of the election, and the government has instituted a social media blackout. Although opposition leaders -- several of them still in custody -- have remained defiant when facing intimidation from security forces, like many other Ugandans, they do not expect their elections will be honest. And even if the incumbent does lose, there are still concerns about what the military could do. Uganda has never witnessed a peaceful transfer of power since gaining its independence in 1962.

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