File(s) under permanent embargo
Timor-leste’s challenged political process: 2016-17
journal contributionposted on 2018-04-01, 00:00 authored by Damien KingsburyDamien Kingsbury
As 2017 unfolded, Timor-Leste appeared to be consolidating its democratic embrace, with peaceful, locally organized democratic elections. Medium- to longer-term prospects for the recently independent country, however, were more ambiguous, with the country’s reliance on oil receipts being tested against still low levels of development. This article proposes that, despite a decade of stability, material improvement has been limited for many of Timor-Leste’s people and exacerbated by growing perceptions of corruption among the country’s elite. Timor-Leste’s social and political stability, therefore, by conventional criteria, appeared vulnerable and its democracy potentially fragile. All of this was exacerbated by the formation of a minority government which failed to achieve the type of inclusion that would have secured a higher degree of political certainty and stability. Instead, the majority opposition formed a political bloc to challenge the government’s programme, including its budget, voting it down twice and hence establishing grounds for the formation of a new government or fresh elections. Set against increasingly confrontational rhetoric, the country’s political stability was, by the end of 2017, in tatters, with a return to the type of bitter divisions that marked the political environment just over a decade ago.