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Why Gain in MPs is Opposition’s Main Achievement From Last Week's Election

The opposition increase in percentage and number is due to the impact of National Unity Platform (NUP), the newest opposition party which won 58 seats in its first contest on Uganda’s political scene. As a corollary of its win, NUP will hold office of the leader of opposition in the 11th parliament.
21 Jan 2021 17:18
Opposition made gains in last week's parliamentary election

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In the 10th parliament, opposition parties have a total of 60 Members of Parliament, representing about 14.3 percent of directly elected legislators—district and constituency MPs. This figure has almost doubled to 112 legislators according to preliminary data from last week’s election.

  

The opposition parties won 22.3% percent of directly elected legislator in the 11th parliament. This percentage will certainly slightly go down when special interest group legislators get elected, and these seats are largely won by the ruling party—the National Resistance Movement (NRM).

  

The NRM has so far won all workers’ and elderly MP seats, except the national elderly seat. Voting for this seat is slated for tomorrow. If NRM wins all special interest group seats, the percentage of opposition legislators will reduce to 21.1 percent. 

  

The opposition increase in percentage and number is due to the impact of National Unity Platform (NUP), the newest opposition party which won 58 seats in its first contest on Uganda’s political seen. As a corollary of its win, NUP will hold office of the leader of opposition in the 11th parliament.

  

The magnitude of NUP’s win could be the opposition’s main achievement from last week’s presidential and parliamentary election because at the presidential level, Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine, the NUP presidential candidate did not get more votes than Kizza Besigye in 2016 election. Besigye polled 3.5 million votes equal to 35.6 percent while Bobi Wine polled 3.2 million votes representing 34.8 percent. 

  

Frank Rusa, the Executive Director of Inter-Party Organization for Dialogue (IPOD) argues that it’s not yet whether NUP MPs won because of ideas they were selling or because of appeal of the party leader—Bobi Wine. He says its influence in parliament will be determined by who the party will chose as leader of opposition and how this leader will organize and shape the direction of opposition legislators. 

  

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Political scientist Goloba Mutebi argues that NUP is the chief winner among all political parties. But its win is inconsequential in parliament because NRM maintains majority and its will be driving parliamentary discussions.  

  

“NUP has new faces, especially young faces,” Goloba says. “The opposition might be vocal (in the next parliament) but NRM will still take any day when they want because they have the numbers.”

  

The Alliance for National Transformation (ANT) of Gen Mugisha Muntu did not win a single seat in parliament after fielding 116 parliamentary candidates. Rusa says ANT’s failure could have been due to limited campaign time. But other political parties equally had the same time. Three MPs who joined ANT: Gerald Karuhanga of Ntungamo Municipality, Kasiano Wadri of Arua Municipality who contested in Arua City Central Division and Paul Mwiru of Jinja Municipality who contested in Jinja South Division East were defeated.

  

ANT is a party that invested time in building structures, Rusa says. Its failure to secure a parliamentary seat is “unfortunate.” 

  

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There will be 77 independent MPs in the next parliament, an increase of 10 legislators from 67 who are in the current parliament. The continued win of independents, Rusa says is indicative of “continued weaknesses in internal democracies of political parties.”   

He says most independents are a protest of what they consider was unfair elections during party primaries. “It’s a challenge for political parties to improve their internal mechanisms.”         

 

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