No-party democracy? : political organisation under movement democracy in Uganda, 1994-2000
Yoweri Museveni's National Resistance Movement took power in Uganda in 1986 and established what it called 'movement' or 'no-party' democracy. Reacting to a history of ethnic conflict-prone parties, the NRM aimed at transforming electoral politics into individual rather than organisational competition. Party activities became subject to strict limitations. The actual functioning of Uganda's alleged 'alternative democratic model' has not been systematically empirically scrutinised. Understanding how it is working is not only an important topic in comparative political analysis but also for appraising external donors' policy. Despite the pressures placed on other African countries to open up to organised pluralism, donors have been uncritically supportive of Museveni's regime, failing to examine the extent to which 'no-partism' can be an authentic alternative to multiparty democracy. This thesis critically investigates the no-party arrangement, both empirically and normatively. It is based on extensive fieldwork carried out in Uganda in 1999 and 2000, when interviews were conducted with parliamentarians, political organisations' officials, NGO representatives, and various policy-makers. The research reconstructs the advent of 'no-partism' in the light of the Movement's reading of the country's political history. It investigates the extent to which party-like organisations retain a presence by mapping them empirically. Finally, it analyses the way 'no-partism' works by scrutinising how political action is organised during elections, in parliament, and in policy-making. The thesis demonstrates that the no-party system is largely no longer in place - since the Movement itself has adopted a party-like organisation. Uganda currently has a 'hegemonic party system'. Opposition parties, despite the legal ban, have tried to adopt new organisational stratagems. But the ban also prompted the emergence of alternative arrangements to surrogate party activities, as it is most apparent in an atomised parliament that mainly fails to operate effectively without formal political parties.