Research Paper 24 - The 'Medellin Miracle': The Politics of Crisis, Elites and Coalitions

The ‘Medellín Miracle’ is the term popularly used to describe the dramatic reduction in violence in Colombia’s second-largest city. It reached crisis point when, with the highest murder rate in the world, it was declared ‘the most violent city on earth’ in 1991.

It is well known that ‘critical junctures’ can rupture the political fabric, and transform social relations. However, the way these junctures are used by political actors, and how the spaces that open up in the wake of crises function to facilitate change is underexplored. 

This study draws on interviews with Medellín’s political, business and civil society leaders and uses a structure-agency analysis to examine the politics behind the city’s remarkable transformation. It asks how such critical junctures can best be used to advance democratic, peaceful and equitable socio-economic development in a conflict situation.

Key points:

  • External Actors: External political actors, whether at national or international level, are crucial factors in processes of change.
  • Enacting the agenda: Fora to discuss and develop agendas are vital, but not sufficient to implement change. Coalitions and compromise are crucial factors for policy implementation.
  • Elites are crucial in processes of change: Forming coalitions with the powers-that-be is a necessary element of enacting change, but can also introduce tensions into the process.
  • Politics is as important as policy: Political evolution that alters who has the power to define an agenda, sit at the table and enact change is as important as the direct impact of certain projects and the policies themselves.
 

About DLP

The Developmental Leadership Program (DLP) is an international research initiative that explores how leadership, power and political processes drive or block successful development.

DLP focuses on the crucial role of home-grown leaderships and coalitions in forging legitimate political settlements and institutions that promote developmental outcomes, such as sustainable growth, political stability and inclusive social development.

Find out more

News

Doing Development Differently workshop - Jakarta 2017

Thursday 30th March 2017

Putting the concept of Thinking and Working Politically into practice was at the heart of a workshop on 15-16 March attended by more than 200 delegates from the field of international development. Delegates from the government, civil service and local organisations of the host country, Indonesia, were joined by academics, including DLP researchers, and staff from donor organisations and NGOs.

Read more

DLP shares research at FCO Africa Study Day

Monday 27th March 2017

DLP findings on the Democratic Republic of Congo were among the topics discussed with with UK diplomats and civil servants at the FCO's Africa Study Day, held at Sandhurst on 21 March. This year's Foreign and Commonwealth Office event was organised by University of Birmingham's International Development Department, home to DLP.

Read more

Follow: @dlprog