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Comparative Politics

B11 - Natural Resource Politics

Date: Jun 5 | Time: 12:00pm to 01:00pm | Location: SWING 308

Chair/Président/Présidente : Amy Poteete (Concordia University)

After the Boom: Volatility, Institutions, Politics, and Development in Botswana’s Resource-Dependent Economy: Amy Poteete (Concordia University)
Abstract: This paper re-examines a frequently cited example of how valuable natural resources can support development. In the decade after Botswana’s transition to independence in 1965-66, the founders of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) consolidated their political dominance, developed the institutional foundation for post-colonial rule, and negotiated the development of significant gem-quality diamond mines with the De Beers-led international diamond cartel. Subsequent political stability and rapid economic growth can be plausibly attributed to the quality of leadership and institutions during this period, the duration of the diamond boom and the unusual stability of international diamond prices, or the politics associated with a broad and stable coalition. Since independence, Botswana has had five presidents. Early institutions have been transformed and new institutions created. The BDP’s coalition has narrowed as political competition has intensified. And the country’s political and economic record in recent years has been mixed. Does a more mixed developmental record represent an empirical challenge to institutional path dependency and a vindication of the influence of political coalitions and competition on development? Are they a product of changes in political leadership? Or do they simply reflect the greater difficulty of managing the end of a mineral boom, especially in the context of an increasingly volatile revenue stream (and increasingly intense electoral competition), despite relative consistency in the quality of political leadership and policies? To answer these questions, the paper analyzes Botswana’s responses to the end of its initial boom in the late 1980s and increasing market volatility and political competition.


The Contentious Politics of Natural Resource Governance and Development: J. Andrew Grant (Queen's University), Dimitrios Panagos (Memorial University of Newfoundland)
Abstract: In 2011, Québec Premier Jean Charest announced an ambitious plan to develop the province’s northern regions. Covering an area nearly twice the size of France, the Plan Nord proposed a sweeping set of projects for energy development, mining, infrastructure, tourism, and conservation. Although the future of the Plan Nord is uncertain after the October 2018 election win by the Coalition Avenir Québec, it is likely that some version of the plan, such as its governance centerpiece to engage and integrate the province’s Indigenous peoples in the sustainable development of the north, will emerge. A perpetual challenge for Québec governments is to better integrate and promote the wellbeing of such communities, and there are warning signs of the potential for future conflict as some have already mobilized opposition against proposed developments. This paper explores the contentious politics surrounding the Plan Nord by building on recent literature on Indigenous contentious collective mobilization to examine how this plan would impact Indigenous and non-Indigenous relations. The paper examines the Plan Nord and related provisions for consulting Indigenous communities by drawing upon primary and secondary documents to determine the scale and scope of both resistance and support amongst various Indigenous communities for the plan. Mindful of the social responsibility political scientists have to speak plainly and to contribute to public debates, we offer a parsimonious theoretical framework to contentious politics in order to assess the prospects for collective mobilization. This provides a theoretically grounded analysis of Québec’s evolving and deeply politicized natural resource development landscape.