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The topic of political ideology has continued to create critical debate and discourse of the last two centuries. At its basis a political ideology is a collection of ideas and values that form a specific overall world view. Ideologies answer the two key questions of how society should be organized and what is the most suitable way to achieving it. The most prominent areas of focus for political ideologies are usually the ideal form of government (e.g. democracy, autocracy...) and the most beneficial economic system (e.g. socialism, capitalism..). Ideologies are traditionally defined on a right-to-left spectrum that orders potions on a linear scale between communism and fascism. However, in the more recent time, debate has increased on the suitability of this concept and the future of political ideology in an increasingly modernized and internationalized world.
Especially in Africa, where dominant political ideologies are frequently argued to be externally imposed and not adequate to capture regional needs and interests. However, the key question of ideological concern defining decisions to be made on the many issues of the economy, education, health care, labour law, criminal law, social security, trade, immigration, the environment and the role of the military are still relevant and are addressed without overarching compass and direction. This leads to a situation where the lack of political ideologies highlights their functions and importance for voter identification, national cohesion and community, and guiding principle for the long term future of a nation and its society.
This topic is especially pertinent for African and also specifically Uganda politics, as it is the task and opportunity of the political leadership and youth in Uganda to take a stance and define the future of their nation and their continent. Many challenges to traditional political ideologies have been severely felt in African nations, through the lack of adaptation of the traditional ideologies to the national context, opportunistic orientation with cold war ally ideology as a short term strategy rather than a long term agenda and the absence of serious ideological pursuits that would lead a country on a long term development trajectory.
In May 2014, the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS) organized a training workshop on the topic of “Political ideology and the Ugandan Context”. This event was attended by key representatives of the youth of Uganda in the fields of policy analysis, political parties and civil society organisations focused on youth political participation. The aim of the workshop was to enable politically interested youth to engage in a productive debate on the topic of political ideology in Uganda, by providing some thematic input and background information. This Public Debate is now the next step in enabling the youth in Uganda to engage in a constructive dialogue on the topic and share their thoughts and ideas with a wider circle of interested youth to eventually also reach key decision makers. The event now aims to provide the platform to take the discussion to the next level by including a wider circle of young people in the debate and expand its reach into the general public.