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The Politics of Timor-Leste: Democratic Consolidation after Intervention

The Politics of Timor-Leste: Democratic Consolidation after Intervention
Michael Leach and Damien Kingsbury, eds.
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The Politics of Timor-Leste explores the critical issues facing the Asia-Pacific’s youngest nation as it seeks to consolidate a democracy following years of international intervention. The authors study the challenges that have burdened the state since it broke from Indonesia amid the violence of 1999 and formally achieved full independence in 2002. They assess the notable accomplishments of Timor-Leste’s leaders and citizens, and consider the country’s future prospectsas international organizations prepare to depart. A close study of Timor-Leste sheds light on ambitious state-building projects that have been initiated, with varying success, across the globe.

Contributors to this volume map the nation’s recent political evolution through studies of its constitutional debates, political parties, and foreign policy responses to powerful neighbors. They address the social and economic conditions that complicate Timor-Leste’s political development, such as gender discrimination, poverty, corruption, and security-sector volatility. The contemporary history of Timor-Leste reflects the experiences of many postcolonial and developing countries that have sought to establish a viable state following conflict and a declaration of independence. This small nation has been the subject of five consecutive UN missions with varying mandates. The Politics of Timor-Leste ought to serve as a key source for comparative postcolonial studies and a guide to future trends in international state-building and assistance.


Michael Leach is an Associate Professor in Politics and Public Policy at Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, Australia. He has written extensively on East Timorese politics and history, and worked as an adviser to Timor-Leste’s Ministry of Education and Secretariat of State for Youth and Sports. He is a founder of the Timor-Leste Studies Association.

Professor Damien Kingsbury is Director of the Centre for Citizenship, Development, and Human Rights at Deakin University. He was coordinator of Australian NGO observer missions to Timor-Leste’s ballot for independence, and its 2007 and 2012 elections, and is a regular visitor to Timor-Leste. He is author of East Timor: The Price of Liberty, and editor or co-editor of two other books on Timor-Leste’s politics. 


Tim Anderson, University of Sydney; Deborah Cummins, Peace and Conflict Studies Institute of Australia and National University of Timor-Leste; Rui Graça Feijó, University of Coimbra; David Hicks, Stony Brook University, New York; Damien Kingsbury and Michael Leach (eds.); Andrew Marriott, lawyer and adviser to AusAID in West Africa; Sara Niner, Monash University; James Scambary, academic and research consultant; Pedro Seabra, Portuguese Institute of International Relations and Security; Dennis Shoesmith, retired, Charles Darwin University; Adérito Soares, Anti-Corruption Commissioner and former member of the Constituent Assembly; and Bu Wilson, independent consultant and ARC Centre of Excellence in Policing and Security.


The Politics of Timor-Leste is an essential reference point for anyone concerned with the most important political issues to be addressed by the country in the coming years. Its authors provide a comprehensive overview of political parties, and the electoral and judicial systems, and describe the main aspects of development strategies implemented since independence. Insightful analyses are presented of key areas, such as the politics of gender, informal security groups and social movements, and strategies for decentralization. Bringing these topics together in one volume provides a highly useful guide for assessing the possibilities for the continuation and development of democratic processes within Timor-Leste.—John G. Taylor, Professor of Politics, London South Bank University, author of East Timor: The Price of Freedom

What the reviewers are saying…

[T]he powerful indictments in this book should make it essential reading for policy makers.—Gerry van Klinken, Pacific Affairs

The book’s breadth enables the reader to understand the emerging political and democratizing arena in which such themes [as development, justice, and gender] can be explored and understood … Those readers seeking information on and analysis of the party political and political institutional aspects of Timor-Leste will be rewarded … the book—quite unique in its focus and specificity—will serve as a timely port-of-call for professionals from a variety of backgrounds—such as international relations/politics, NGOs, conflict resolution, development education … —Paul Hainsworth, Policy and Practice: A Development Education Review


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