How does the state actually work in post-Soviet Eurasia? Put aside the notion that these countries are moving toward modern liberal democratic statehood, Johan Engvall of Uppsala University argues in the current issue of Governance. What is evolving, instead, is the state as a kind of investment market, in which would-be officials invest in offices to obtain access to streams of income associated with those offices. Drawing on fieldwork in Kyrgyzstan between 2006 and 2013, Engvall explains how the system works. “Office-holding,” he says, “resembles a rather uncertain franchise-like agreement.” Free access to the article.
During the first weeks of 2015, the suspicious death of a federal prosecutor put Argentina in the global spotlight, highlighting once again the need for strong, accountable democratic institutions. Alberto Nisman was found dead in his apartment on January 18. He had been investigating the 1994 bombing of Argentina’s Jewish mutual aid society (where 85 people were killed and 300 injured). He died hours before a congressional inquiry into his criminal complaint that President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner and her Ministry of Foreign Affairs had tried to obstruct the investigation by signing a secret agreement with Iran to absolve suspects in return for economic advantages. Read the rest of this entry »
“Criticism of the capacity of the state to deliver quality services has become widespread, generating cynicism and undermining trust in government,” says Carlos Santiso of the Inter-American Development Bank. In a commentary for Governance, Santiso identifies the three key steps toward improving government performance in Latin America and the Caribbean: creating “agile centers of government”; fostering a “technically competent and fiscally sustainable civil service”; and using new technologies to promote transparency. Free access to the commentary.
Clay Wescott, Governance‘s Book Review Editor, was in Sana’a, the capital of Yemen, from January 17 to 24. The Yemeni government led by President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi resigned on January 22. Here, Clay provides a short note about his visit.
I arrived in Sana’a, Yemen on Saturday, January 17th, to begin a week of support to the Ministry of the Civil Services and Insurance in the early implementation of human resources management and payroll reforms. The work was to include advice on developing a change management strategy, drawing on international experience, and incorporating this strategy into a work plan for 2015.
I had known that this work would be different from other assignments as I was required to spend six hours taking two online security courses, learning what to do in the case of kidnapping, a suicide bomber attack, and other cheerful possibilities. Still, I had worked in places such as Kabul, Dili, and Phnom Penh, and assumed I was ready. Read the rest of this entry »
In the current issue of Governance, Alasdair Roberts reviews Breaking Democracy’s Spell by John Dunn. Dunn renders “a harsh judgment on Western democracies . . . But there are reasons to think why it might not be fair.” Read the review.
And Kai Chen of Zhejang University reviews The Routledge Companion to Public-Private Partnerships, edited by Piet de Vries and Etienne Yehoue. “This compelling and thought-provoking volume is an excellent addition to the literature on public-private partnerships.” Read the review.