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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Ethnicity, Distributive Politics, and Voting in Uganda
by Kim, Hye-Sung, Ph.D., University of Rochester, 2014, 184; 3644899
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation examines the link between ethnicity, distributive politics, and voting in Uganda, one of the most ethnically diverse countries in the world. Until recently, the scholarship on ethnic politics have been somewhat narrowly focused on the effects of coethnicity, including whether voters vote for coethnic candidates, what explains voters' tendency to vote for their coethnics, and whether leaders' coethnics benefit more favorably from targeted resource distribution. The dissertation is motivated by observations that ethnicity influences voters' preferences for non-coethnic candidates as well as coethnic candidates. Voters who do not have a coethnic candidate may still make voting decisions influenced by existing ethnic preferences for non-coethnic candidates. Even voters who have a coethnic candidate may have ethnic preferences that influence them to vote for a non-coethnic candidate under certain circumstances.

The first chapter of the dissertation illustrates the patterns of ethnic preference for both coethnic and non-coethnic candidates and the degree of persistence of ethnic preference for non-coethnic candidates as opposed to ethnic preference for coethnic candidates. Ethnic preferences for a coethnic candidate-especially an incumbent coethnic-are found to be substantially persistent whereas ethnic preferences for non-coethnic candidates are generally not persistent. These findings are closely linked to the other parts of the dissertation. The subsequent chapters present how voters' ethnic preferences and the persistence of ethnic preferences influence voters' responsiveness to presidential candidates' clientelistic appeals and the provision of targeted distribution of public resources to different electoral areas.

In the second chapter, I discuss a survey experiment I conducted in the eastern region of Uganda and the related finding: voters without persistent ethnic preferences are more likely to defect because of clientelistic appeals. This chapter finds that targeting non-coethnics with clientelistic promises is more effective in gaining votes than targeting coethnic voters. This strategy becomes even more effective when no coethnic candidate is on the ballot. Because voters generally have weaker ethnic preferences for non-coethnic candidates, defections occur more frequently when a coethnic candidate is not running.

The last chapter examines the conditions under which a vote-seeking incumbent provides a targeted benefit for his own strongholds, swing areas, and opposition strongholds, where the incumbent and opposition strongholds are measured by (a) the previous electoral outcomes, and (b) the ethnic composition of electoral areas. In this chapter I argue that the incumbent seldom faces incentives to target his own stronghold when voters' preferences are persistent. The empirical examination of how electoral calculations influence the allocation of local service delivery, including electricity supply, local public roads, health and medical facilities, and local primary universal education confirms this prediction: in all four cases of local service delivery in Uganda, the incumbent's stronghold has not benefited from the allocation of service delivery, whether the incumbent's stronghold is measured based on the previous electoral outcome or the ethnic composition of the electoral area. In particular, the incumbent's ethnic stronghold, where the electoral area is predominantly the Banyankole, was less likely to experience improved service delivery of electricity supply and local public roads compared to the previous election cycle.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Powell, G.Bingham
Commitee: Blackwell, Matt, Harding, Robin, Kemedjio, Cilas, Meguid, Bonnie
School: University of Rochester
Department: School of Arts and Sciences
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 76/03(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Political science, Sub Saharan Africa Studies
Keywords: Africa, Clientelism, Distributive politics, Ethniciy, Uganda, Voting
Publication Number: 3644899
ISBN: 978-1-321-33308-4
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