Shifting Ground: Flexible Alliances and Generational Change in Post-Independence Politics

Maj Nygaard-Christensen, Angie Bexley

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


    A key ambivalence that informs Timorese politics after independence relates to the heritage of the resistance struggle and its significance in relation to political authority. Leaders of the country’s first political administrations gained legitimacy first and foremost on the basis of their resistance credentials. References to the resistance struggle against Indonesia and its symbols and sacrifices continue to play a role in electoral politics. At the same time, however, the extent to which the heritage of the resistance can legitimately be appropriated for political gains has been contested. In the first decade of independence, former resistance leaders who continued in formal political positions after independence were often accused of opportunism; of exploiting their positions for personal gains, of having betrayed resistance ideals of national unity with multiparty competition, and of having distanced themselves from the ordinary people who helped bring them into power. Across the political spectrum, however, there remains an inability to imagine a political landscape without the influence of senior political leaders associated with the resistance, whether those who steered activities on the diplomatic front from exile abroad, or those who led the armed resistance within then Indonesian-occupied East Timor. What has this centrality of the resistance and its senior leadership in narratives about East Timorese national identity and political authority meant for younger leaders trying to establish themselves politically?
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationRoutledge Handbook of Contemporary Timor-Leste
    Editors Andrew McWilliam & Michael Leach
    Place of PublicationLondon
    PublisherRoutledge Taylor & Francis Group
    ISBN (Print)9781317225225
    Publication statusPublished - 2019


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