Political Settlement Dynamics in a Limited-Access Order: The Case of Bangladesh

This study explores the dynamics of the elite political settlement in Bangladesh during the last two decades (1991-2012), as well as its impact on economic development and political development, understood here as the process of maintaining a stable balance between state-building, rule of law consolidation, and democratization. The concept of political settlement is crucial for understanding the dominant social order in Bangladesh: the disaggregation of the country’s limited-access order into three distinct political settlements with different dynamics of elite interaction -competitive politics, economic realm, and social provision provides a conceptually sound interpretation of the so-called ‘Bangladeshi paradox’ of high growth and pro-poor policy without ‘good’ governance. Despite such regression in the political domain, the current democratic political settlement has maintained popular/electoral legitimacy and has proved to be functional enough for the needs of certain actors of the dominant elite coalition, primarily the business elite. By focusing on the various equilibria conditions for elite strategy, this paper also begins to explore the conditions necessary for Bangladesh to transition into a more open social order.

Author: Hassan, Mirza
Type: Working Paper
Year: 2014