Democratization, Elite Transition, and Violence in Cambodia,

Author: David Roberts


This article is concerned with elite management of democratic transition in Cambodia between 1991 and 1999. It surveys the manner in which various elites, dominated by Hun Sen in particular, have viewed the legitimacy of opposition in a political culture characterized by elite authoritarianism, narrow vested interests, and deeply entrenched systems of patronage and clientelism. This view is then located in the wider context of external pressures and mechanisms for the pluralization of their political society. While the paper reveals cultural insights drawn from primary material, it is also framed by a debate on when, why, and how elites do and do not reform away from self-interest and self-aggrandizement and move to fair and impartial representation of wider interest groups.

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December 2002
© ILO Photo/Crozet M.