Party, patronage and coercion in the NRM’S 2016 re-election in Uganda: imposed or embedded?

Richard Vokes, Sam Wilkins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


In the wake of President Museveni’s latest election victory in Uganda, this article provides a critical review of the current literature on his National Resistance Movement (NRM) regime and seeks to affect a paradigm shift. We find that much of this scholarship has tended to track the regime’s increasing authoritarianism over the years with an implicit assumption of social detachment, as if the NRM’s successful electoral machine is one imposed on the voting public in ways that counterbalance Museveni’s declining legitimacy and lack of genuine political support. While agreeing with the substance of many of the points made to this end, we draw on the events of the 2016 election, our own ethnographic evidence from four traditionally pro-NRM districts and the research in the rest of this special issue to outline the ways that the regime’s election strategies rely on a more embedded presence in Ugandan political culture. The article focuses specifically on how three often-cited components of the NRM electoral machine – its dominant party network, its use of patronage as election finance, and its deployment of physical coercion through the security services – can only be understood when viewed with this more grounded approach.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)581-600
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Eastern African Studies
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2016


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