Researching the politics of development



Political settlement dynamics in a limited-access order: The case of Bangladesh

Working paper 23

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Mirza Hassan


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 democratisation (Fukuyama, 2011). 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. 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.