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Title:Uganda's Referendum 2000: The Silent Boycott
Author:Therkildsen, Ole
Periodical:African Affairs: The Journal of the Royal African Society
Geographic term:Uganda
Politics and Government
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/3518354
Abstract:This article is a comment on the article 'Uganda's referendum 2000: the silent boycott' by Michael Bratton and Gina Lambright (in: African Affairs, vol. 100, no. 400 (2001), p. 429-452). Shortly before the referendum, in which citizens were asked to choose between the existing 'movement' system and a multiparty system, Bratton and Lambright did a survey of people's attitudes to democracy and argued that there was an 'extensive 'silent' boycott' of the referendum 'among persons who sympathized with the idea of multiparty competition'. The present author questions this finding. Apart from methodological problems, he argues that more context-specific analyses of the referendum results are needed to understand public opinion in Uganda about democracy and the movement system. More importantly, Bratton and Lambright ignore the fact that the movement system is a combination of no-party political arrangements and devolution, implicitly assuming that the latter has no impact on present attitudes to government systems and democracy. The author argues that there is a need to conceptualize and assess the significance of devolution in democratization processes in Africa and how it may influence public opinion on democracy. Notes, ref., sum.