Sonja Grimm, Lisa Groß | 2016

Conflicts of Preferences and Domestic Constraints: Understanding Reform Failure in Liberal Statebuilding and Democracy Promotion

in: Contemporary Politics, 22: 2, 125-143.

This paper challenges the common explanations that failures of external state-building and democracy promotion are the result of a lack of domestic capacity or a lack of domestic willingness against an externally set liberal agenda of state-building and democratisation. Studying political decision-making on a micro-level, we argue that both explanations fail to capture the multi-faceted motivations and interests of domestic actors that go beyond mere ‘resistance’ against externally induced liberal reforms. Rather, criticism of reforms might be rooted in ideas of social justice and claims to socio-economic security. Furthermore, these explanations tend to overlook the need for domestic elites to bargain with various domestic stakeholders. A case study of Croatian public administration reform illustrates that failure of externally promoted reforms remain an option when significant international resources are available for liberal state-building and the target of reform is a relatively mature bureaucracy.

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