Democratic Politics in South Asia: Working Through or Outside of Institutions?

Room: 
Room 2.30, Law & Politics Building
Time Slot: 
Monday 26th March 14:15 - 15:45
Panel Chair: 
  • Dr Wilfried Swenden (University of Edinburgh )
Panel Members: 
  • Dr Filippo Boni (University of Birmingham)
  • Professor Katharine Adeney (University of Nottingham)
  • Dr Upasak Das (University of Pennsylvania)
  • Dr Diego Maiorano (University of Nottingham)
  • Dr Rekha Diwakar (University of Sussex)
  • Dr Simona Vittorini (SOAS University of London)
  • Dr Andrew Wyatt (University of Bristol)

This panel asks fundamental (and difficult) questions about the place of institutions in the political systems of South Asia, and notes that these institutions are often bypassed or undercut by political actors.  The federal structure of Pakistan has recently been reformed to give the smaller provinces more influence.  However, the new China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project threatens to disturb this institutional equilibrium with power and resources accruing to the centre.  Since 1971 elections at the state level of India’s federal system have not been tied to the timing of national elections.  However, a return to concurrent national and state assembly elections is being considered and may result in the creation of ‘fixed term legislatures’.  The implications of this proposal for the practice of representative democracy in India need to be evaluated. It is often argued that Indian democracy is heavily influenced by the use of material appeals for support that are said to subvert state institutions.  However, the exact character of such a ‘patronage democracy’ needs to be evaluated.  The use of populist appeals, which tend to bypass or erode formal institutions, is well established in South Asian politics.  The personal style of India’s current Prime Minister seems to follow this approach, however whether this amounts to a significant form of populist politics needs scholarly analysis and debate.