Posted by: nativeiowan | March 22, 2011

Worth a read

YOUTHQUAKE: will Melanesian democracy be sunk by demography?

In its latest briefing paper, the Pacific Institute of Public Policy (PiPP) looks at the need for political reform to governing systems across Melanesia as its young population booms.

It asks a troubling question – will democracy be sunk by demography?

The Pacific in general, but Melanesia in particular faces a serious demographic challenge. More than half the population is under 24 and in broad terms, urban populations are doubling every 17 years while national populations are doubling every 30 years.

The combination of pressures on land, jobs, geopolitics and a failing Westminster system of government is creating anger and frustration with consequences for continuing democratic rule in the region.

As the Great Arab Revolt unfolds on the other side of the world, with young people at the heart of calls for democracy, Melanesia seems to be moving in the opposite direction – from democracy towards autocracy. Right now, the trend in Melanesia is moving more towards Frank’s Fiji than Julia’s Australia.

There is real danger that left unchecked, the rising tide of youth and other frustrated citizens will want autocracy rather than democracy if service delivery continues to fail and there are no options for regional labour migration.

PiPP suggests a need for new thinking is revitalising democracy and governing systems in the region and an urgent need to manage generational change.

The full discussion paper (number 17) is attached.


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