What you need to know:
- These findings come at a time when the 11th parliament has only 12.3 percent of parliamentarians aged 35 years and below in a country where 75 percent of the population is under 35 years of age.
Heavy commercialization of politics in Uganda is one of the biggest stumbles against youth participation in electoral processes, a recent study has revealed.
The findings by the Public Policy Institute (PPI), Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD) and the Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy (NIMD) study were revealed during the launch of the 2026 youth electoral roadmap and the presentation of proposed electoral reforms in Kampala as the country prepares for the 2026 general election.
“Candidates in the 2016 primary and general elections in Uganda spent on average Shs465m ($136,084) to run for Parliament and Shs237.5m ($69,505) to run for LCV. This means that a candidate aspiring for parliamentary office spent in campaigns up to 210 times the average income of a Ugandan,” the research shows.
These findings come at a time when the 11th parliament has only 12.3 percent of parliamentarians aged 35 years and below in a country where 75 percent of the population is under 35 years of age.
Mr Edson Rugumayo, the western youth MP noted that there’s need to increase youth representatives in Parliament to equitably represent and advocate for youth affairs.
“We are five youth MPs of the 557 members of parliament representing over 75 percent of the population aged under 35 years. The issues we have advocated for are very small. We still need a big number of youth MPs in parliament to amplify youth voices louder,” Rugumayo said.
Mr Jacob Eyeru, the Chairperson of the National Youth Council said the participation of youth in electoral processes is to help Uganda have meaningful voter turnout. It should be noted that in the 2021 elections, youth population was approximately 40.8 percent of the voters yet the voter turnout in Uganda was less than 60 percent.
“This means youth didn’t turn out [in large number] to vote. You should make Uganda’s democracy meaningful by turning up in large numbers and how you turn out is by knowing the entire process. You (youth) can play a pivotal role in ensuring that elections are about issues and can demand from the leaders that are standing to talk about real issues and not shy away from any without favouring anyone. If it is an issue for Uganda, young people must be bold enough to make the questions heard and the comments present,” Mr Eyeru said.
According to Primus Atukwase Bahiigi, the Country Director for the Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy (NIMD), the launch of the youth electoral roadmap and the presentation of multiparty youth forum’s electoral reforms will offer a structured and well-documented strategy to foster youth participation in upcoming elections.
“This marks a pivotal moment in Uganda’s democratic journey. The roadmap is a meticulously crafted strategic plan by the multiparty youth forum leaders, a manifestation of their dedication to fostering youth participation in 2026 elections. The roadmap delineates the steps and goals necessary to amplify the voices and aspirations of Uganda's youth, with a specific emphasis on early mobilization,” Bahiigi said.
On his part, Mr Bernard Odoi, the Eastern region youth MP, advised that discussions of having youth MPs from every region need to be taken to every sub region for the benefit of Uganda.
Attended by secretaries general from different political parties, youth members of parliament and civil society organisations, among other sector players, some of the proposed electoral reforms include amendment of Parliamentary Elections Act to reduce the nomination fees from Shs3 million to Shs500,000, reducing the nomination fees for special interest groups from Shs3 million to Shs200,000 and provide for pragmatic means for prisoners and the Ugandans in the diaspora to vote.