Institut for Statskundskab

Growing but not transforming: Fragmented ruling coalitions and economic developments in Uganda

Publikation: Working paperForskningpeer review

In spite of decades of GDP growth, Uganda remains an agricultural economy still awaiting an economic transformation. Sustained state initiatives to promote such a transformation have been lacking. We find that the explanation for this is to be found in the nature of the ruling coalition, which has been stable enough to maintain macro-economic stability, attract aid and ensure the one-off gains from introducing peace. However, the fact that it has proved so challenging to hold the ruling coalition together has hindered the ruling elite in implementing initiatives to support transformation. The Ugandan ruling coalition is becoming increasingly exclusive in the sense that previously strong supporters have been ousted from the coalition or have left at their own initiative. In addition, lower level factions have become stronger due to the introduction of Movement primaries and the fact that lower level cadres are to be found in important lower level government positions. The costs of holding the ruling coalition together have increased, and this has made the ruling elite rely more heavily on state resources. At the same time, the ruling elite turn a blind eye to Movement supporters who make use of their public positions to benefit themselves. The costs involved in winning elections have also risen, and increasing use is being made of public resources to fund patronage, as well as of public-sector programs to win elections.
The fact that staying in power has become more costly and that the ruling coalition has become more fragmented makes it difficult for the ruling elite to take initiatives to promote a structural transformation of the economy. Such initiatives have uncertain long-term results and may be resisted by factions with strong holding power. An easier and safer way to stay in power is to use state resources to hold the ruling coalition together. This, however, is not likely to result in an economic transformation and hence in job creation for the poor majority of Ugandans.
UdgiverDIIS - Danish Institute for International Studies
Antal sider33
ISBN (Trykt)9788776054939
StatusUdgivet - 2012


  • ruling coalition, economic transformation, elite, Uganda

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