Explaining youth political mobilization and its absence: the case of Bobi Wine and Uganda's 2021 election

Macdonald, Anna ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-8873-003X, Owor, Arthur and Tapscott, Rebecca (2023) Explaining youth political mobilization and its absence: the case of Bobi Wine and Uganda's 2021 election. Journal of Eastern African Studies, 17 (1-2). pp. 280-300. ISSN 1753-1055

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What explains youth political mobilization in Uganda—or lack thereof? This article challenges the simple dichotomy of youth as either a dangerous or disengaged political constituency. Instead, we analyze the conditions that determine whether youth can coalesce as a politically salient category. For many, the outcome of the 2021 Ugandan elections defied expectations. A large and underemployed youth population combined with the emergence of self-proclaimed ‘youth candidate’ Bobi Wine, led both international and domestic analysts to predict a strong youth challenge to National Resistance Movement (NRM) dominance. However, while Bobi Wine captured the opposition vote, he was unable to create a new youth constituency that could overcome existing political and regional cleavages. This article draws on interviews and fieldwork on youth political mobilization during the 2021 elections to identify and analyze a range of historically rooted methods that the NRM effectively deploys to mobilize and fragment youth. The findings confirm the need to look beyond rallies and rhetoric to analyze whether the conditions are right to allow youth to emerge as a politically salient category.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Funding information: Funds supporting the research and writing of this article were generously provided by the Economic and Social Research Council funded Centre for Public Authority and International Development [grant numbers ES/P008038/1 and ES/W00786X/1]; and The Gerda Henkel Foundation’s Special Programme on Security, Society and the State [grant number AZ17/KF/18].
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Social Sciences > School of Global Development (formerly School of International Development)
Depositing User: LivePure Connector
Date Deposited: 21 Jul 2023 00:14
Last Modified: 08 Sep 2023 09:30
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/92643
DOI: 10.1080/17531055.2023.2235661


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