Governance and political adaptation: Constituency development funds in Solomon Islands and the construction of a Melanesian State

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


    Solomon Islands has since 2003 been the object of intensive neo-liberal state-building by the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI). RAMSI’s state-building programme (until 2013) included sustained efforts to support the consolidation of liberal political institutions including parliamentary democracy and a Westminster state system. Despite efforts to regularise formal politics through a comprehensive democratic governance programme, one of the most notable developments in post-tensions Solomon Islands has been the way political elites have worked to adapt formal political institutions to align with local political economies and power dynamics. Such efforts have been most apparent with the rise of Constituency Development Funds (CDFs)-state sanctioned, discretionary development funds provided to Members of Parliament (MPs) on an electorate basis to support local-level development. Such funds have grown exponentially since the mid-2000s and are now of a scale that they are redefining the structure of the formal state, the nature of state-society relations, and the type of social contract constituted in Solomon Islands. Drawing on case study and field research conducted since 2010, this chapter examines the growth of CDFs as a form of reverse political adaption. It explores how externally supported liberal governance institutions have provided opportunities for local elites to develop new Melanesian state forms. It will be argued that CDFs have helped underwrite a distinct form of political order in post-conflict Solomon Islands that is nominally liberal but in practice has had the effect of consolidating illiberal political and development dynamics.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationGovernance and Political Adaptation in Fragile States
    Editors John Lahai, Howard Brasted, Karin von Strokirch and Helen Ware
    Place of PublicationBasingstoke
    PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
    ISBN (Print)9783319907482
    Publication statusPublished - 2018


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