Corruption, Grabbing and Development
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Corruption, Grabbing and Development

Real World Challenges

Edited by Tina Søreide and Aled Williams

All societies develop their own norms about what is fair behaviour and what is not. Violations of these norms, including acts of corruption, can collectively be described as forms of ‘grabbing’. This unique volume addresses how grabbing hinders development at the sector level and in state administration. The contributors – researchers and practitioners who work on the ground in developing countries – present empirical data on the mechanisms at play and describe different types of unethical practices.
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Chapter 13: Grabbing an election: abuse of state resources in the 2011 elections in Uganda

Svein-Erik Helle and Lise Rakner


Elections are an integral part of representative democracies. Well-functioning elections contribute to democratic accountability and democratic institutions, which in turn contributes to economic and human development too (Acemoglu and Robinson, 2012; Gerring et al., 2012). But the integrity and quality of the electoral process is in many countries threatened by the growing importance of money in politics: vote buying and the use of state and other illegal resources for partisan purposes (Annan et al., 2012). Electoral fraud has both economic and political consequences, as illustrated by the 2011 parliamentary, presidential and local elections in Uganda. They ended, as many observers expected, with a landslide victory for incumbent President Yoweri K. Museveni and his National Resistance Movement (NRM). The victory was Museveniís fourth consecutive election victory, after winning in 1996 and 2001 under the ëMovement-systemí when no opposition parties were allowed, and the first multiparty electoral competition in 2006.The legitimacy of the election processes and election results in all elections under NRM-rule have been questioned. Criticism has related to what we perceive to be a form of grabbing: use of public (state) resources in election campaigns for the ruling party. The importance of money and resources has been a recurring issue in the 1996, 2001 and 2006 elections (William, 1997; Tripp, 2004; Kiiza, 2008). As this chapter highlights, these problems were even more prevalent in 2011. The NRM candidates, and especially President Museveni, had distinct resource advantages compared to the opposition parties and candidates, much of it fuelled by access to the state apparatus and state finances.

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