Rejuvenating EU democracy support in Uganda? An analysis from a radical democratic perspective.

October 2019 to September 2023
Democracy Support
European Union
Radical Democracy
Chantal Mouffe
Makerere University (Uganda)
Research fields
Law and Political Science
The ‘consolidation of democracy’ worldwide has been a key foreign objective of the EU and is likely to continue to be so, in particular since the EU has reaffirmed its commitment through the 2019 council conclusions on democracy and the new Action Plan on Democracy and Human Rights. Yet, the EU’s support to democracy has also been firmly criticized for being depoliticized, technocratic and overly ineffective (e.g. Kurki 2011). Consequently, academic literature and civil society have called on the EU to ‘rejuvenate’ its external democracy support by becoming more ‘smart’ and ‘political’ in terms of setting its methods and objectives (e.g. Carothers & Gramont, 2015; Carothers, 2020; Godfrey and Youngs, 2019; Youngs, 2015).
However, as noted elsewhere, such recommendations remain highly vague and superficial and have insufficiently engaged with local ontologies. Also, they remain ‘inward-oriented’ and depart from a ‘deliberative democratic’ and ‘inside-out focus’, rendering them rather Eurocentric. Therefore, departing from ‘agonistic pluralism’ or ‘radical democracy’ as a theoretical guideline, this PhD seeks to re-imagine what EU democracy support should look like in the context of Uganda. More specifically, based on qualitative and interpretative fieldwork on the ground, this research analyses how the local concepts – e.g. ‘Eddembe ery'obuntu’ – relate with differing EU democracy support policies.
In doing so, this research seeks to add both an important theoretical and empirical contribution to the current debate on bridging postdevelopment with EU external policy studies. Indeed, it presents a necessary step into ‘the need to go beyond critique and concentrate efforts on articulating the narratives of those struggling to retain or create diverse ways of life against the homogenising forces of development’.