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Journal Article

Applying Deliberative Democracy in Africa: Uganda’s First Deliberative Polls


Practical experiments with deliberative democracy, instituted with random samples of the public, have had success in many countries. But this approach has never before been tried in Sub-Saharan Africa. Reflecting on the first two applications in Uganda, we apply the same criteria for success commonly used
for such projects in the most advanced countries. Can this approach work successfully with samples of a public low in literacy and education? Can it work on some of the critical policy choices faced by the public in rural Uganda? This essay reflects on quantitative and qualitative results from Uganda’s first Deliberative Polls. We find that the projects were representative in both attitudes and demographics. They produced substantial opinion change supported by identifiable reasons. They avoided distortions from inequality and polarization. They produced actionable results that can be expected to influence policy on difficult choices.

James S. Fishkin
Roy William Mayega
Lynn Atuyambe
Nathan Tumuhamye
Julius Ssentongo
Alice Siu
William Bazeyo
Journal Name
Publication Date
10.1162/DAED_ a_00453
The MIT Press