As Good as It Gets? Stateness and Democracy in East Timor

Aurel Croissant, Rebecca Abu Sharkh

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The chapter analyses the simultaneous state-building and democratization process in East Asia’s newest sovereign nation-state. Since 2002, East Timor has strived to create a democratic and effective state out of the ashes of colonial rule, armed conflict and foreign occupation. With the assistance of the United Nations (UN), East Timor has thus undergone a process of simultaneous state and democracy building. Despite tremendous challenges, democracy has been surprisingly resilient against a number of severe crises. East Timor thereby represents a highly unusual mix of a fragile stateness but, given the circumstances, a relatively resilient (though, low-quality) democracy. This chapter investigates the reasons for and the implications of this surprising combination. In so doing, the chapter demonstrates that democratization and democracy have contributed to further consolidation of nation-building and statehood in East Timor. At the same time, however, limited stateness is one of the main reasons why democracy remains of low quality.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationStateness and Democracy in East Asia
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages29
ISBN (Electronic)9781108862783
ISBN (Print)9781108495745
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Cambridge University Press 2020.


  • democratization
  • East Timor
  • embedded democracy
  • particularistic networks
  • State-building
  • stateness
  • United Nations


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