Elite capture is a major barrier to citizen engagement in local governance processes in many developing countries. Data from six case studies of development initiatives in Bangladesh show that, in spite of attempts by aid donors and others to ensure citizen participation, programmes are dominated by a nexus of local elites including MPs and bureaucrats. Local stakeholders do not understand the value that direct citizen participation can bring, and citizens are unaware of their rights and wary of challenging elites. Monitoring of requirements for citizen participation is weak, and the management of some programmes deters participation. Representatives are sometimes selected by elites and legal frameworks are not sufficiently strong or enforced consistently. We conclude that a range of additional and effectively implemented policy measures are required to reduce the extent and effects of elite capture in developing countries.
Wahed WaheduzzamanSwinburne University of Technology, Australia