Is Small Beautiful? Multiparty Politics and Democratic Consolidation in Timor-Leste

Dennis Shoesmith

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    Drawing on comparisons of the experience of multiparty politics in postcolonial African states and in Papua New Guinea, this article considers whether the party and electoral systems in Timor-Leste retard a transition to a consolidated democratic polity. Like FRELIMO in Mozambique, the independence party, FRETILIN, committed to a one-party regime until both parties adopted multiparty politics from the late 1980s. Since independence, Timor-Leste has been relatively successful in establishing a competitive party system. This article argues, however, that the proliferation of small parties and the necessity to negotiate unstable coalition governments retard the process of democratic consolidation in Timor-Leste, and the party system undermines effective state governance and restricts rather than broadens democratic representation. A weak multiparty system has encouraged corruption and poor governance in Papua New Guinea, and multiparty politics threaten similar outcomes in Timor-Leste.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)33-51
    Number of pages19
    JournalAsian Politics and Policy
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2012


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