Defending or defeating democracy? Civil society and electoral autocracy in Kenya and Uganda

The aim of this project is to analyse when and why civil society organisations support or resist electoral authoritarian rule.

Repressive governments and autocratic use of state power in such systems have been much debated. Far less academic and public attention has been given to how and to what extent such rule is shaped by support or resistance from interest organisations in civil society. A common view is that civil society organisations are forces for democracy. This project instead sets out from the assumption that civil society encompasses a variety of political orientations: democratic, antidemocratic or politically indifferent. Groups mobilise or are mobilised to support or resist authoritarian rule.

The project will investigate when and why this happens by studying a selection of groups from important categories of interest groups in Kenya and Uganda: faith-based institutions, law societies and trade unions. Elections in electoral autocracies are often held under contested and unfair conditions. The study examines how the selected organisations have related to frameworks for elections, including electoral legislation and electoral commissions, in connection to three general elections in each country.

- The importance of this study is to investigate how electoral autocratic rule is anchored in society. The forms and extent of social anchoring shapes whether such systems of rule are stable or prone to change, says project leader Anders Sjögren.

Principal investigator: Anders Sjögren (Department of Government)

Period: 2018–2022

Funding: SEK 2 610 000 from the Swedish Research Council

Anders Sjögren

Senior Lecturer/Associate Professor at Department of Government, Faculty

+4618-471 3488
Last modified: 2022-01-24