SOTP2016 - The Relationship between Democracy and Development in the Pacific

Elvira Rumkabu presenting at SOTP2016 conference. Image SSGM

This session will consider the relationship between democracy and development in the Pacific region. Democracy is often held to be conducive to improving development outcomes because it promotes more accountable and effective governance. In practice, the evidence that suggests democratic institutions have supported improved development in the Pacific is less clear. Clientelistic and personality-based forms of distributive politics, which predominate in the Pacific, can undermine the capacity of Pacific governments to take a long-term view on development. The rise of constituency funding models challenges existing notions of development, replacing the state as a key development agent with personalised models centred on the political priorities of MPs. The failure of democracies in the region to deliver more inclusive development outcomes may undermine the legitimacy of existing democratic frameworks. This session will consider how the relationship between democracy and development in the Pacific plays out in practice, and what this means for the type of development that is likely to occur within democratic contexts across the region. It will also consider if new forms of participatory democracy can be supported to better connect citizens with government, making the latter more responsive to development priorities.

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