The Global Revolution and Crisis of Good Governance
The Challenge of Coalition Politics
By Hon. Winston Dookeran
Minister of Finance of Trinidad & Tobago
and Manfred D. Jantzen, Ph.D.
[Editor’s Note: The insights for this article came from four sources: (1) A seminar entitled The Challenge of Coalition Politics in today’s World – Another Approach to Good Governance, sponsored by the Congress of the People on February 26, 2011; (2) Winston Dookeran and Akhil Malakhi, Leadership and Governance in Small States, Getting Development Right, VDM Verlag, 2008; (3) Mathew Bishop, Coalescing for Change? Novel Coalitions in the UK and Trinidad and Tobago, published in The Round Table, February 2011; Winston Dookeran and Manfred Jantzen, Power, Politics and Performance, A Partnership Approach for the Development of Small States, Pending Publication, Ian Randle Publisher, April 2011.]
The ideas from these sources allowed the authors to provide a framework for coalition politics in global and local context and explore the following topics: The Global Revolution, Glocalization of Citizens Expectations, Demand and Supply of Good Governance, Good Governance Gap, Political Realignment Challenge, Government Performance Power, The Future of Coalition Politics.]
The Global Revolution
A global revolution is sweeping our planet and in the process is creating a new Frontier World in which a new social, economic, and political order is emerging. What ultimate direction, content, form, and outcome this revolution will take is yet to be shaped. The path to the future is yet to be constructed. Critical decisions by governments and national leadership are yet to be made.
What is clear, while the old order still holds the balance of power and controls the corridors of politics, it now is threatened and declining on its hold on the community of national interests and citizens. The new social, economic, and political order is gaining strength and is just emerging as a new political force.
The cry for change is like a trumpet call heard reverberating around the globe. While the driver of this global revolution is information, or more precisely the accessibility of information through a global information communication technology (ICT) platform and local infrastructure, the source is peoples’ expectation for a ‘better life’. This global revolution is releasing an immense amount of social energy, suddenly and unpredictably releasing energy like a volcano exploding from decades of build up pressure, like the pent up energy released from the movements of tectonic plates in the form of earthquakes. The global revolution is resulting in unpredicted powerful transformative events which none of the experts foresaw.
What should be made clear at the outset, this global revolution is not led and organized by traditional political interests; it is a genuine bottom-up revolution of un-fulfilled expectations by all segments of society. Furthermore, it is not limited to the so called developing world, second or third.
The global information revolution with its
political consequences manifests itself differently in different cultures and
nations. In the
Glocalization of Citizens Expectation 
This paradigm shifting information driven global revolution creates a crisis for all governments, authoritarian or democratic alike. This world-wide revolution, while it is global in its dimensions, has profound local economic, social, and political consequences; and in turn local events have global significance. This describes what we mean by glocalization, there are no boundaries between local and global. Information flows at the speed of light, and is accessible nearly everywhere and at any time and to enough people – individual customers and citizens – to cause deeply unsettling expectations and demands.
From an economic perspective, informed local customers have not only global customer expectations, but also demand global performance standards from local business enterprises.
The much maligned capitalism and its ‘free market economy’ that according to its opponents created inequality of wealth and socio-economic groups, including poverty, has also provided the drivers for this political liberating global revolution. It is western capitalism that created the world-wide information web based on science and technology. It was fostered and financed by the ‘greedy’ capitalists and their capitalistic institutions and infrastructure. It is this capitalism of the 19th and 20th centuries that created enough wealth in the world and in enough nations that provided both the ubiquitous information - communication technologies from satellites to cell-phones. It is this information web that has set the preconditions for change, by allowing mass participation. It has created the demand for citizen participation.
A historical lesson from western European history appears to still hold true, that economic freedom and certain levels of prosperity precede political freedom. Bluntly stated, wealth accumulation and related necessary infrastructure come first. But unlike past revolutions, which were fermented and led by a small political and intellectual elite, the contemporary revolution, because of the information accessibility, emerges from the bottom through self-organization of common interest and a genuine desire for freedom, individual freedom, and desired political participation in governance.
Demand and Supply of Good Governance
Successful political change depends on the demand and supply of good governance. If a society does not demand good governance, there certainly will not be a supply.
There are two aspects which can explain the current global political revolution and accompanying governance crises. On the one hand is the rising expectation of citizens, created and spread by the globalization of the economic markets. These powerful expectations encompass the demand for quality public goods and services from their government and political parties in power. In addition, one of the unattended consequences of the power of the world-wide information communication network is a demand for good governance - democratic institutions that allow citizen participation and input into decision-making, affecting the life of ordinary citizens.
Another of the unattended consequences of the global information-communication network is that this distributive information technology also shifts political power. Information is power; in the past, especial information stamped secret by governments is and was the source of state or government power. The global ICT network allows accessibility and transparency of information by citizens; and consequently is destroying the power based on secret information and knowledge and is shifting the power to the people. This shifting of the information paradigm, giving information power to the people, is a major contributor to global political revolution.
Good Governance Gap
The good governance gap results from the demand for good governance not being matched by the supply. In many developing countries, citizen participation in government through appropriate political infrastructures, the supply for good governance, is insufficient or worse, non-existent. The more dictatorial and/or authoritarian the government, the more concentrated the power of the state in a single individual, group or party, the greater is the governance crisis, the more painful the transition to good governance. Stated in another way, the greater the gap between demand and supply of good governance, the greater is the likelihood for violence and overthrow of the existing government.
The cry for more democratic involvement by citizens in the institutions of government will not go away but rather increase. The demand for personal and political freedom will increase and those in political power must prepare for an accommodation and transition to the sharing of power.
The global political revolution, resting on a global technological platform(s), using the highways of information, is shifting the political and social power from the traditional centers of political power to the periphery where the citizens as political customers demand the sharing of power. The end-user is demanding to be served. Consequently, the current global crisis in governance is as much about citizens’ rising expectation and demand for political participation in their governance, as it is about the inability of traditional political leaderships to share power. The traditional power centers in the form of the state and political parties in power lack the capacity to supply good governance, they have insufficient democratic infrastructure. They cannot support the participatory demands of the citizens.
Clearly, the current global revolution is creating a world-wide governance crisis, a new demand by citizens of each country to share in political power and participation in decisions that affect their life. The old and still powerful current paradigm contributes to the unequal distribution of wealth while espousing the opposite; it emphasizes noble ideas like poverty reduction for a rapidly growing global population which it cannot deliver. In fact, poverty may well reflect much more the information gap, accessibility to information, than simply a distribution of income wealth issue. Finally, there may be a knowledge gap which is not bridged by the traditional media and educational institutions to educate the citizens about the emerging new political paradigm involving people power.
The new political paradigm shifts the emphasis to people power, personal and political freedom, and a new experiment in political power sharing. It is interesting to note that the new global political revolution places a primary emphasis on political participation and individual freedom, and not on wealth redistribution and material benefits. What we may really need to redistribute is political power.
The Political Realignment Challenge
All existing political systems are forced to realign with the global information environment. Some must dramatically transform, some reinvent themselves, and some are forced to create new forms of governance. All need to accommodate the existence of a youthful population, who not only is in the majority but increasingly information connected and informed citizens in general, making new demands. The citizen of today, in any country, is impatient for immediate result and will not wait for the long-term, however, well intentioned solutions.
In the past, only business was taken to task for not delivering and meeting customer expectations; now the informed citizens question their government’s performance. Furthermore, the global information platforms and its highways have given interested stakeholders and citizens the power not only to questions the government’s delivery of public goods and services but demand political power, in the form of participation in political decision that affect their life. Citizens want performance from their government, they want results NOW, and they also want to participate in the process of governing at community and national levels.
Government Performance Challenge
This is a precarious time for political leaders and political parties in power. There is a profound shift from political power to performance power in government. Traditional politics is about getting elected and achieving government control and in most cases keeping the political machinery to stay in power. As a consequence, the winning party, the party in power becomes the government. Hence political elections were about attaining political power and in the more undemocratic countries to use the power of the state to stay in power. This old paradigm politics is not about how to achieve good governance to serve the people but rather to serve the party. In this sense, it is likely that a nation can be without a real functioning government that delivers outcomes aligned with national and people’s needs.
The global information revolution has shifted the paradigm, from electoral politics to government performance. While electoral politics is necessary, from the informed citizen’s point of view, election politics is the affair of the political parties and is operational politics, it is not of ultimate concern of the citizen. The citizen is less concerned who wins but who delivers. Good governance supersedes party politics
A New Look at Coalition Politics
Citizens around the world have lost faith in their governments to do the ‘right thing’ by placing the needs of citizens and the country first. Citizens in most countries have low regard for politicians; they no longer trust their politicians and the political system to deliver what is promised in elections. In authoritarian societies, government could not and would not deliver personal freedom.
Consequently, in all nations, the new informed and information connected citizen is demanding direct participation. The one-party only of the authoritarian state and the traditional-two party dominance of the democratic regimes no longer seem to adequately serve the increasingly complex and diverse national interests and communities in a society. Many citizens ‘feel left out’, having little or no voice representing their interests. The old political mindset of a dominant two party political system - imposed from the top - is that the winner gets all the state’s power and the loser gets to play opposition without power.
A new political mindset is emerging, that of
coalition politics; driven from the bottom by informed and connected citizens.
While there are many different definitions of coalition politics,[vii]
we want to place an emphasis on coalitions of interests, may they be groups,
communities of shared interests; networks of stakeholders with similar
interests; or simple citizens sharing similar needs, demands, and values for a
better life. In the most recent North
The dominant parties have imploded and fragmented into splinter groups; and in some cases this process led to the formation of new political parties. These new parties have as their political purpose not the one-dominant party model, but rather promote inclusivity by joining existing interest groups.
In the past it has been argued that only a two party system with one winning party and one opposition party will provide the desired national stability. The new political paradigm of political coalition reasons that the coalition unity, considering the increasing diversity of interests in a society, is the best way of offering the necessary governmental stability and the best way to deliver performance to the people.
It is the new demand-driven mindset by the people regarding their government and the capability of the government to deliver, that results in governmental stability. It promises a healthy foundation for nation development and a better government by putting country first above party politics.
The global revolution demands not only a new political mindset capable of solving today’s glocalized problems, but bringing together many different interests coalescing for change.[viii] The one-world information environment has created a new frontier that requires also a new political paradigm that allows participation of the 21st century informed citizenry.
Coalition politics is the politics of today. Many countries of the world have forged coalition of interests, sometimes a coalition is explicit and sometimes it is implicit. Coalition politics is based on inclusion and today the whole world is under the challenge of bringing the politics of inclusion – include everyone, include the poor, include the dispossessed. This is what coalition politics is all about – across race, across class, across jobs.
Coalition politics and coalition governments may
well be the next evolutional step, a transition from the old
The insights for this article came from four sources: (1) A seminar entitled The Challenge of Coalition Politics in today’s World – Another Approach to Good Governance, sponsored by the Congress of the People on February 26, 2011; (2) Winston Dookeran and Akhil Malakhi, Leadership and Governance in Small States, Getting Development Right, VDM Verlag, 2008; (3) Mathew Bishop, Coalescing for Change? Novel Coalitions in the UK and Trinidad and Tobago, published in The Round Table, February 2011; Winston Dookeran and Manfred Jantzen, Power, Politics and Performance, A Partnership Approach for the Development of Small States, Pending Publication, Ian Randle Publisher, April 2011.
The ideas from these sources allowed us to provide a framework for coalition politics in global and local context and explore the following topics: The Global Revolution, Glocalization of Citizens Expectations, Demand and Supply of Good Governance, Good Governance Gap, Political Realignment Challenge, Government Performance Power, The Future of Coalition Politics.
 A seminar entitled The Challenge of Coalition Politics in Today’s World – Another Approach
to Good Governance was sponsored by the Congress of the People, Operation
 Winston Dookeran, the political leader
of Congress of the People in his brief concluding remarks on the Politics in the New Frontier, in the
above mentioned seminar, challenges his party to provide the leadership for
coalition politics and construct the future for
 It could be argued that this is the case
 Dookeran & Jantzen, in a forthcoming book Power, Politics, and Performance, A Partnership Approach for the Development of Small States. See Introduction on relationship between power, politics and performance in the context of global information environment. Chapter 1 explores the power of information, the dynamics of a one-world-information environment.
 Chapter 1 of the previously mentioned book explores the power of information, the dynamics of a one-world-information environment.
 Dookeran & Malaki, Leadership and Governance in Small States, Getting Development Right, VDM Verlag Dr. Müller, 2008 in Chapter 3, Politics & Development.
[vii] Clyde Weatherhead, Director of Research, Congress of the People, in the same seminar, sponsored by the Congress of People, in his session, Coalition Politics and the People’s Partnership, after discussing the various definition and current applications of Coalition Partnership as a number of penetrating question including is there a future for Coalition Politics in Trinidad and Tobago and can it become the norm?
L. Bishop in a recent article, Coalescing for Change? Novel Coalitions in
[ix] Dr. Hamid Ghany, Dean of the Faculty of Social Science, University of the West Indies, suggested that the Westminster system may well be evoluting and taking on the content if, not the form of Washington presidential system, by limiting the power of both the Prime Minister and dominant political party. In his session on Coalition Politics and Constitutional Reform he urged that Coalition Politics requires a different political mindset with different use of political power and strategies to achieve good governance.
About the Authors:
The Honorable Winston Chandarbhan Dookeran has made his mark in the twin
with a baccalaureate degree in Economics and Mathematics from the University of
Manitoba, Canada; and at the age of 26 received his M.Sc. in Economics at the
London School of Economics and Political Science, University of London, United
Kingdom. In 1991 he was conferred a Doctor of Laws (honoris causa) by the
Dookeran is widely published on Caribbean economic development and has contributed
articles and interviews on economics, finance, and development to numerous
international professional journals. As a result of his keen insights into
questions of public policy and the economic challenges of developing countries,
he became to be respected throughout the
Dookeran has time and again shown his regard for principles and consensus
building and rejection of opportunism.
He embodies the new multi-disciplinary statesman of the
Manfred D. Jantzen is a Senior Advisor and Lecturer at the Business
Development Office, the Office of the Principal of the University of the
He graduated with a PhD from the
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