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Although Bangladesh remains a country characterised by continuing mass poverty, the focus of development efforts since the 1990s has shifted away from economic growth towards what is seen as the persistent problem of governance, the term that has come to be used by development donors and used more widely to refresh to politics, policy and citizenship issues. Two interrelated problems are normally identified here. The first here is the problem of partisan politics in which the political system is seen as having become unaccountable making possible the self-interested use of state power by political parties. The second is the problem of patronage and corruption, which makes it possible for political parties to build rent-seeking alliances with key actors, including the military, business, professional groups and the bureaucracy, in order to gain control over public resources. Such is the culture of distrust that competing political parties adopt an “all or nothing” approach in a zero-sum game, in which the successful party gains monopoly control and the losing party sees no choice other than to resort to noncooperation.

p. 106 (slightly edited – removal of footnotes), David Lewis, Bangladesh, 2011.

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