Department of Political Science

Nomination violence in Uganda's National Resistance Movement

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Institutional explanations of intra-party violence rarely address political
economy dynamics shaping the institutions in question, and therefore they
fail to understand their emergence and their stability. Specifically, focusing
on institutional factors alone does not enable a nuanced understanding
of candidate nomination violence and why some constituencies are peaceful
while others are violent. This article theorizes nomination violence in
dominant-party systems in sub-Saharan Africa. Drawing on political settlement
theory, it examines the nature of nomination violence in Uganda’s
October 2015 National Resistance Movement (NRM) primaries. We
argue that the violence is a constitutive part of Uganda’s political settlement
under the NRM. Nomination procedures remain weak in order for
the NRM ruling elite to include multiple factions that compete for access
while being able to intervene in the election process when needed. This
means, in turn, that violence tends to become particularly prominent in
constituencies characterized by proxy wars, where competition between
local candidates is reinforced by a conflict among central-level elites in
the president’s inner circle. We call for the proxy war thesis to be tested in
case studies of other dominant parties’ nomination processes.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAfrican Affairs
Pages (from-to)177-198
Number of pages22
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021

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