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Uganda: Voters See Covid-19 Impacts On the Election – and Election Impacts On the Pandemic

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Kampala — Ugandans expect the COVID-19 pandemic to have significant negative impacts on Thursday’s general election, a new Afrobarometer survey shows.

They also fear that the election will worsen the pandemic.

Even so, in interviews in late December and early January, a majority favoured going ahead with the election as planned – but with relaxed police enforcement of COVID-19 regulations.

Among negative impacts, a majority of respondents said the pandemic would hinder the work of election observers and the ability of all candidates to have a fair chance to campaign. Overall, about half thought the pandemic would affect the credibility of election results.

Most citizens thought it was likely that voters gathering at polling sites would increase the number of COVID-19 infections in the country.

For more survey findings on Uganda’s upcoming election, please visit www.afrobarometer.org.

Key findings:

– As of December-January, a majority of Ugandans said the COVID-19 pandemic would have “some impact” or “a lot of impact” on candidates’ ability to have a fair chance to campaign (61%), the ability of observers to fully monitor the election (56%), and citizens’ attendance at campaign rallies or meetings (51%). About half (48%) expected the overall credibility of election results to be affected by the pandemic.

– Substantial proportions also foresaw pandemic impacts on the Electoral Commission’s ability to ensure free and fair elections (45%), the ability of police and security forces to enforce electoral laws fairly (44%), and citizens’ decisions to go to the polling station (39%).

– More than seven in 10 Ugandans (72%) considered it likely that COVID-19 infections would spread as a result of people gathering to vote.

– But only one-third (32%) of Ugandans said the 2021 elections should have been postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

– Almost two-thirds (64%) endorsed the government’s proposal to help ensure that citizens are informed by providing free radio sets to all Ugandan households and free TV sets to communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

– More than six in 10 citizens (62%) said that to help ensure a free, fair, and credible election, the police should relax enforcement of COVID-19 regulations during the election campaign.

Survey background

Afrobarometer is a pan-African, nonpartisan survey research network that has provided reliable data on experiences and evaluations of democracy, governance, and quality of life in 38 African countries since 1999.

Afrobarometer conducts face-to-face interviews in the language of the respondent’s choice with nationally representative samples.

With financial support from the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Uganda, the Afrobarometer team in Uganda, led by Hatchile Consult Limited, interviewed 2,400 adult Ugandans between 22 December 2020 and 7 January 2021 in 300 enumeration areas across 110 districts. A sample of this size yields country-level results with a margin of error of +/-2 percentage points at a 95% confidence level. This was the 11th Afrobarometer survey in Uganda since 1999.

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