April 12, 2012
  Governance Information Bulletin #34 Subscribe | Unsubscribe

Governance and Aid Strategies

Fletcher Tembo
In this working paper for the Overseas Development Institute, Fletcher Tembo argues that development practitioners are now compelled to consider the factors that shape results in a theory of change for citizen, voice and accountability projects, which explains how desired outcomes will be reached. However, stating a theory of change for such projects is difficult due to the complexity of citizen-state relationships. To navigate these issues, Tembo builds on outcome mapping and political economy analysis to develop an analytic framework that focuses attention on how to explore, understand, and explain change in a dynamic context as well as support the formation of more realistic voice and accountability objectives and resultant outcomes. >>>

Thomas Carothers
In this report for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Thomas Carothers reviews the democracy promotion policy of the Obama Administration. Against the significantly flawed democratization efforts under the Bush Adminstration, Carothers shows how President Obama initially de-emphasized democracy promotion to engage non-democratic governments such as Iran, Russia, and elsewhere. Although these moves triggered alarm and criticism from parts of the U.S. foreign policy community, greater democracy engagement re-emerged in the second half of 2009 in response to democratic breakdowns. With the onset of the Arab Spring, President Obama’s positive response was balanced by U.S. economic and security interests. Overall, Carothers argues that this mixed response represents a familiar pattern rather than a change in U.S. policy. >>>
Raúl Zambrano and Ruhiya Kristine Seward
In this report,  Raúl Zambrano and Ruhiya Kristine Seward of the United Nations Development Programme discuss how mobile communications technologies can increase participation in democratic governance and support creative ways to solve public problems. The report develops the perspective that mobile governance, or M-governance, makes possible more open democratic processes and mechanisms by expanding access to information and participatory communication channels. M-governance thereby ensures wider stakeholder mobilization within a shorter period of time. Because new mobile platforms are simple and easily available, they can be adapted to monitor elections, track crime, and expand service delivery by communicating supply-and-demand information to citizens and states.   >>>
Julio Faundez
This working paper by Julio Faundez of the University of Warwick  welcomes the interest that International Development Agencies (IDAs) have recently shown in legal pluralism and, more specifically, on Non-State Justice Systems (NSJS). Although formally NSJS are not part of the official state apparatus, the author argues that such systems are not entirely outside the prevailing framework of governance. As a consequence, attempts to engage NSJS inevitably risks disturbing finely tuned governance arrangements which are not always easy to uncover or conceptualize using orthodox notions drawn from modern legal, political or economic theory. Drawing examples from Latin America and Africa, the author suggests that any successful engagement with NSJS requires a deep understanding of both local state structures and political processes. It also requires an in-depth understanding of the state and community within which NSJS operate. Successful engagement should be seen as part of a continuing process of state building and unless IDAs are willing to take a wider and more political approach to their involvement with NSJS, they will not achieve meaningful progress in rule of law and governance projects. >>>

Elections, Parties, and Parliaments

Vivian Roza, Beatriz Llanos, and Gisela Garzón de la Roza
In this report for International IDEA, Vivian Roza, Beatriz Llanos, and Gisela Garzón de la Roza examine why Latin American polities have yet to achieve gender parity in political parties despite the recent election of women to the presidencies of Latin American republics. The authors discuss how International IDEA created ‘The Gender and Political Parties in Latin America’ database (GEPPAL) to evaluate gender parity in political parties. Based on surveys of 94 political parties across the region, women’s participation is found to be  limited and that one-third of parties make no mention of gender equality, equity, or non-discrimination. Overall, the authors show that while women may make up the base of party membership, they hold very few leadership positions. >>>

Lawrence Ezrow, Catherine De Vries, Marco Steenbergen, Erica Edwards
In this article published in Party Politics, the authors examine whether political parties respond to shifts in the preferences of their supporters or to the preferences of the broader electorate. Based on cross-national analyses of Eurobarometer surveys from 1973 and 2002 for 15 countries, the authors find that different parties respond to different voters. Mainstream political parties will change preferences in response to general public opinion, while policies of leftist and rightist parties (Communists, Greens, Nationalist) tend to reflect only the mean position of their supporters. These findings suggest that the dynamics of representation of citizens by parties is not uniform even within individual countries and is heavily contextualized. >>>

John M. Carey and Simon Hix
In this London School of Economics and Politics working paper, John M. Carey and Simon Hix explore the effects of electoral design on achieving representation of voter preferences, accountable governments, and strong economic performance. They argue that the trade-offs between majoritarian and proportional representation (PR) are non-linear. They further hypothesize that the advantages of PR can be achieved without sacrificing those of majoritarian systems by maintaining low to moderate district magnitudes, or the number of seats available in each electoral district. This hypothesis is then tested against election outcomes in 61 countries from 1945 to 2006. Low magnitude districts are thus shown to reduce party fragmentation, produce simpler coalitions, and surpass pure majoritarian and PR systems on indicators of government performance. >>>

Morten Egeberg, Åse Gornitzka, Jarle Trondal, Mathias Johannessen
In this working paper for the University of Oslo, Morten Egeberg, Åse Gornitzka, Jarle Trondal and Mathias Johannessen examine the perspectives of the administrative personnel of the European Parliament. While most scholarly work focuses on MPs, little attention has been directed at staff that may also take part in decision processes and thereby affect the content of decisions. The authors’ online survey of 118 staff shows that political group staff working on committees are concerned with the sectoral positions of their respective organizations as well as those of external actors such as interest groups. However, secretariat officials are concerned mainly with sectoral or expert concerns. Nonetheless, the survey finds that both groups of staff rank European concerns above national ones and pay attention to the arguments of the European Commission more than any other institution. >>>


Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit (AREU)
In “Equal Rights, Unequal Opportunities,” staff from the Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit explores some of the dynamics of women’s participation as candidates and voters in parliamentary and provincial elections. Drawing on conversations with successful and unsuccessful female candidates as well as members of six study communities spread across Balkh, Bamiyan and Kabul provinces, the report finds no one blueprint for a successful female candidacy. In almost all cases, successful candidates ultimately secured victory via a combination of good access to financial resources, ties to a powerful family or a political party, and a strong relationship with a given community or other constituency of voters. Significantly, surprisingly few female candidates chose to court female voters. >>>


Anwar Ullah and Soparth Pongquan
This report by Anwar Ullah and Soparth Pongquan from the Asia Institute of Technology in Thailand argues that Union Parishads (Councils) in Bangladesh do not optimally mobilize local revenue despite several sources of funding. It evaluates Union revenue trends, performance, budget and planning practices, and the effects of grants on local revenue in the context of the central government’s recent initiative for Union capacity building.  The analysis includes three representative Unions in a comparative perspective, and uses secondary and primary data from Parishad functionaries, local citizen, government officials and national experts.  The findings show that open budget discussion combined with discretionary and performance grants have made a positive impact on local revenue collection. The study recommends making adjustments in local revenue shares, increase discretionary grants, and validation of local participatory governance for improved sustainability. >>>


Lance W. Robinson and Fikret Berkes
This paper by Lance Robinson and Fikret Berkes of the University of Manitoba’s Natural Resources Institute explores Gabra pastoral communities in northern Kenya to illustrate the ways in which multi-level participation contributes to adaptive capacity to environmental change.  The findings suggest that adaptive capacity is a property of the social-ecological system as much as it is a property of particular actors within the system. The paper argues that there are three key elements of meaningful multi-level participation: an institutional environment in which the various levels of institutions are linked, inclusivity in decision-making at these various levels, and deliberation. These three features can work together to create meaningful multi-level participation to facilitate the co-production of knowledge and to build adaptive capacity. >>>


Omar Shahabudin McDoom
This report by Omar Shahabudin McDoom of the London School of Economics and Political Science compares steps taken during Rwanda’s democratic transition with efforts to ensure the long-term durability of domestic peace. The author argues that incremental political liberalization would encourage a shift in Rwanda’s political culture away the subversion of institutional rules to personal, party, or ethnic interests. Instead, such liberalization would encourage institutional accountability, discourage attempts to bring change through extraconstitutional means, and enhance the regime’s legitimacy among the Rwandan people. McDoom concludes that peace is most likely to endure if Rwanda’s political space is opened up to ensure state autonomy from the current regime and encourage the maturation of civil society to act as a counterweight to the ruling party.



Daniel James Alamillo

This paper by Daniel Alamillo and Lilia Diaz of New York University discusses how bottom-up grassroots programs are gaining increasing attention as they are proving to be more effective than traditional top-down assistance for people with disabilities (PWDs).  The authors argue that participatory programs allow individuals and communities to actively participate in their own development.  This paper analyzes how one particular community of people with disabilities in Uganda is actively playing a role in their own development. It chronicles the implementation of participatory forms of development by PWDs in the Iganga district of Uganda and lays the foundations for further research on the ability of local actors to create social change through their own actions. >>>

Message from the Editor

SUNY/CID welcomes new and continuing readers to its Governance Information Bulletin (GIB) 34 which draws attention to technical matters involved in strengthening political institutions and to broader issues of aid strategies, democracy assistance, public sector performance, and to countries and regions where SUNY/CID is working.  Each entry provides a link to a larger piece of research in the title and at the end of the entry.

In this issue, please find recent reports, summaries, and publications on development by development professionals from the Overseas Development Institute, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, International IDEA, and other organizations and universities. In addition, all previous issues can be found at the SUNY/CID website here.

We welcome all questions, comments and suggestions at gib@cid.suny.edu.

In This Issue

* Citizen Voice and State Accountability: Toward Theories of Change that Embrace Contextual Dynamics

* Democracy Policy Under Obama: Revitalization or Retreat?

* Mobile Technologies and Empowerment: Enhancing Human Development through Participation and Innovation

* Legal Pluralism and International Development Agencies: State Building or Legal Reform

* Gender and Political Parties: Far from Parity

* Mean Voter Representation and Partisan Constituency Representation: Do Parties Respond to the Mean Voter Position or Their Supporters?

* The Electoral Sweet Spot: Low-Magnitude Proportional Electoral Systems

* Parliament Staff: Backgrounds, Career Patterns and Behavior of Officials in the European Parliament

*Equal Rights, Unequal Opportunities: Women's Participation in Afghanistan's Parliamentary and Provincial Council Elections

* Revenue Mobilisation Performance of Union Parishad in Bangladesh

* Multi-Level Participation for Building Adaptive Capacity: Formal Agency-Community Interactions in Northern Kenya

* Rwanda’s Exit Pathway from Violence: A Strategic Assessment

* Disability is Not Inability: Grassroots Participatory Development and Collective Action in the Iganga District of Uganda

Development and Governance Blogs

Connie Veillette of the Center for Global Development’s Rethinking U.S. Foreign Assistance blog reviews the House of Representatives proposed budget and its shrinking role for development and diplomacy in comparison to defense.

Josh Rogin at Foreign Policy’s The Cable discusses growing Congressional support for efforts to defeat the Lord’s Resistance Army and capture Joseph Kony.

Emily Kallaur at AidData’s The First Tranche blog reviews recently released data tracking overall trends in global development finance over the last twenty years.

Maree Tait at the Development Policy Centre’s Development Policy Blog discusses how practitioners can best build south-to-south knowledge flows to complement traditional forms of development assistance.

Michelle Kooy at the Overseas Development Institute explores progress in halving the number of people worldwide without access to safe drinking water and the political economy of water and sanitation service delivery.

The Democracy Digest of the National Endowment for Democracy reviews recent developments in Egypt’s transition to democracy, including the emerging confrontation between the Muslim Brotherhood, the Egyptian military, and secular political parties.

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