A long and winding road: a brief history of the idea of a ‘government of national unity’ in Timor-Leste and its current implications

Political development Reconciliation Timor-Leste


In this Discussion Paper, I consider first the academic debate on the establishment of democracy and the role of political competition and cooperation as a background to the current Timorese government formula. This is followed by a brief historical tour of the idea of institutional inclusion in the Timorese recent past (including actual opposition to it) in order to frame the following discussion of some problems that the inauguration of a new form of government may pose in the process of democratic consolidation. I shall then address the rationale for change that may explain the decision to revert to the new formula, whose merits and limitations will also be discussed. Finally, one and a half years after the inauguration of the new government, Timor- Leste has been shaken by political events that call into question whether the scope of ‘inclusion’ of its basis is actually so broad as to embody ‘national unity’, as important players (such as President Taur Matan Ruak) appear to be challenging critical decisions of Rui Maria de Araújo and his government. The end of History is not in sight.

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