Publication Details

Carson, L & Martin, B, Social institutions in East Timor: following in the undemocratic footsteps of the West, Portuguese Studies Review, 2003, 11(1), 123-136. The original journal can be found here.


When East Timor gained its formal independence in 2002, an opportunity existed for the new country to establish innovative participatory practices in governance, defence and its economy. These alternatives are based on the principles and practices of inclusive, deliberative democracy and assume that citizens have the capacity to control their own society. However, East Timor defaulted to known systems: representative government, a military force and a market-based economy. The reasons for this institutional conservatism include unfamiliarity with alternatives, influence and example of dominant systems, and the interests of East Timorese elites.