When Things Get Personal: Politics and Democracy in Small States

Event details

SSGM Seminar

Date & time

Wednesday 14 November 2018


Hedley Bull Theatre 2, Hedley Bull Centre (130), Garran Road, ANU


Wouter Veenendaal



In this seminar, Wouter Veenendaal will present the main findings of his newly published book Democracy in Small States: Persisting Against All Odds (OUP; co-authored with Prof. Jack Corbett). This is the first book-length study of democracy in the world’s 39 small states with less than 1 million inhabitants, which so far have mostly been excluded from mainstream comparative research. The book investigates to what extent prevailing theories of democratic transition and consolidation can explain the performance of small states, and finds that most of them lack explanatory power. Instead, the analysis reveals that politics in small states is highly personalistic and informal in nature, showing that hyper-personal democracy persists even in very adverse circumstances. These arguments are supported by the results of recent field research in Malta and Suriname, as well as upcoming fieldwork in Vanuatu.

About the Speaker

Wouter Veenendaal is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Leiden University, the Netherlands. His research focuses on politics and democracy in small states, and he has conducted field research in various small states around the world. He is the author of Politics and Democracy in Microstates (Routledge, 2015), as well as numerous journal articles. His present research project, funded by a grant from the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research, examines why small states remain politically stable despite having very informal and personalistic politics. In the context of this project he is conducting fieldwork in Malta, Suriname, Vanuatu, and Comoros.

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