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Can democratization undermine democracy? Economic and political reform in Uganda

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Democratization in Uganda may be seen as a form of policy transfer where the meaning of a multi-party system is significantly altered as a reflection of both the domestic political context, and the interests of the international donors. In making this argument, this paper provides three case studies of conflict between Uganda's parliament and executive branch over banking reform, central bank independence and electricity sector reform, between 1996 and 2006. Despite taking place in the no-party system, the executive oversight that the legislature provided constituted a particular form of substantive or 'thick' democracy, where parliament functioned as an effective opposition. This, in turn, created an incentive for Uganda's executive branch to promote the 2005 shift to a multi-party system, in order to produce a formal-legal or 'thin' form of democracy in which the executive branch could control parliament. This shift was supported by a donor community more interested in pursuing neo-liberal reforms in recipient states than in defending existing forms of substantive democracy.

Keywords: Uganda; central banking; democratization; electricity sector; executive; parliament

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Humanities, Social Sciences and Communications, Richmond the American International University in London, UK

Publication date: 2011-04-01

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