The Impact Of Economic Development On Democracy – The weakness of our democratic system must be addressed through inclusive politics and people’s participation. Having an improved quality of life should be a fundamental right.
The relationship between democracy and development has led to the fundamental question of whether development leads to democracy or vice versa. There are at least five points of view on the connection between democracy and development in the literature.
- 1 The Impact Of Economic Development On Democracy
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- 3 Transitions To Democracy And Economic Growth In Indonesia
The Impact Of Economic Development On Democracy
The first says that countries need development first. Once they achieve development, people can have democracy. This argument assumes that the democratic process can become chaotic, which does not mean development. In such a circumstance, governments make decisions that ignore people’s opinions but benefit people.
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Second, the argument is that democracy should come before development. It is based on experience where indicators of economic and social well-being have been achieved better in democracies compared to non-democratic systems. Therefore, the priority of developing countries should be to promote democracy, which in turn would lead to economic development.
Third, the view that economic development leads to democracy is based on the idea that when a country reaches a higher level of income, they tend to move towards adopting democracy.
The fourth view is that economic development does not necessarily lead to democracy. Often, authoritarian regimes show citizens that because they can achieve economic growth, there is no need for democracy.
Fifth is another view, that democracy plays no role in development. It basically tells us that politics can affect the economic performance of countries. But the type of regime has no part in it. So the impact of democracy on economic development is not known. In this approach, democracy and development are two independent situations without any influence on each other.
Transitions To Democracy And Economic Growth In Indonesia
Although the research drew the above conclusions from the experiences of several regime types and their economic performance, these studies are flawed on three grounds.
First, the dataset used in these studies, which do cross-country regression analysis to see the links between the two concepts, suffers from inadequacy. There have been several attempts to improve the quality of data worldwide and a global requirement for data quality. Still, there is little progress.
Second, while economic progress can be relatively easily measured in quantitative terms, political performance is a qualitative term. Therefore, assigning numbers or weights to it for statistical analysis will always be a challenge.
Third, the existing research often uses growth and development synonymously, ignoring the fundamental difference between these two concepts of economic performance. While economic growth is only a measure of the annual growth rate of a country’s gross domestic product (GDP), development has a more significant connotation. Its sphere includes social and political indicators. Growth is a narrow concept that only captures the increase in income, while development implies a deeper meaning of progress. It is about comprehensive progress in human life. Therefore, a country does not necessarily need to develop even with a high growth rate. Only income-based progress looks at per capita income but ignores people’s quality of life and non-economic demands. Growth-based progress also ignores inequality, distributive justice and inclusion. It denies a person’s basic rights. Although some countries are making progress economically, their inequality is also increasing, while their performance in other aspects of life is deteriorating.
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Ideally, in a democratic environment there are better opportunities for economic, social and cultural growth compared to within an authoritarian state. Democracy is also crucial for long-term sustainable development. By democracy, we do not just mean expressing individual choices by participating in the electoral process. It’s not just about voting to elect a government in a country; it is about a participatory process in all government development efforts. It is about social and institutional transformation, where personal growth and well-being are considered an integral part. Having an improved quality of life that is valued and respected should be a fundamental right.
There is also a tendency among many of us to cite examples of undemocratic countries as economic success stories, see China. Singapore is also cited as another clear example of economic success that was possible in an authoritarian system. But the limitations of these systems are real. Corruption of high-level Chinese party officials and unequal distribution are the norm. These two countries are criticized for suppressing people’s voices and freedom all over the world.
But democracy is also about having the opportunity to determine individual interests. Transparency in resource allocation and utilization, resource management accountability and protection of human rights, including freedom of expression, are all components of the democratic package and essential to inclusive development. Therefore, the true meaning of democracy should lie in empowering people by enabling their participation in the electoral and development process. Freedom through free and fair democracy is a crucial component of a long-term development process. The journey of the highly developed and strong democratic countries confirms this experience.
In the 21st century, the case for ignoring democracy for economic development is weak. Development without democracy is not possible. Democracy is part of development. Both are essential prerequisites for human welfare. Creating a dichotomy between democracy and development is misleading. They are inextricably linked. In recent years, a democratic boom has given way to a democratic recession. Between 1985 and 1995, scores of countries made the transition to democracy, creating widespread euphoria about the future of democracy. But more recently, democracy has receded in Bangladesh, Nigeria, the Philippines, Russia, Thailand and Venezuela, and the Bush administration’s attempts to establish democracy in Afghanistan and Iraq appear to have left both countries in chaos. These developments, along with the growing power of China and Russia, have led many observers to argue that democracy has reached its peak and is no longer on the rise.
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That conclusion is incorrect. The underlying conditions in societies around the world point to a more complicated reality. The bad news is that it is unrealistic to assume that democratic institutions can be established easily, almost anywhere, at any time. Although the outlook is never hopeless, democracy is most likely to emerge and survive when certain social and cultural conditions prevail. The Bush administration ignored this reality when it sought to implant democracy in Iraq without first establishing internal security and overlooked cultural conditions that jeopardized the effort.
The good news, however, is that the conditions conducive to democracy can and do emerge—and the process of “modernization,” according to abundant empirical evidence, fosters them. Modernization is a syndrome of social changes linked to industrialization. Once set in motion, it tends to penetrate all aspects of life, producing occupational specialization, urbanization, rising levels of education, rising life expectancy, and rapid economic growth. These create a self-reinforcing process that transforms social life and political institutions, leading to increasing mass participation in politics and – in the long run – making the establishment of democratic political institutions increasingly likely. Today we have a clearer idea than ever before about why and how this democratization process takes place.
The long-term trend towards democracy has always come in ups and downs. In the early 20th century, there were only a handful of democracies, and even those lacked full democracies by today’s standards. There was a large increase in the number of democracies after World War I, another increase after World War II, and a third increase at the end of the Cold War. Each of these increases was followed by a decline, although the number of democracies never fell back to the original baseline. At the beginning of the twenty-first century, about 90 states could be considered democratic.
While many of these democracies are flawed, the overall trend is striking: in the long run, modernization leads to democracy. This means that the economic resurgence of China and Russia has a positive aspect: underlying changes are taking place that make the emergence of increasingly liberal and democratic political systems likely in the coming years. It also means that there is no reason to panic that democracy currently appears to be on the defensive. The dynamics of modernization and democratization are increasingly evident, and it is likely that they will continue to operate.
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The concept of modernization has a long history. In the 19th and 20th centuries, a Marxist theory of modernization proclaimed that the abolition of private property would put an end to exploitation, inequality and conflict. A competing capitalist version held that economic development would lead to rising living standards and democracy. These two visions of modernization competed fiercely for much of the Cold War. In the 1970s, however, communism began to stagnate and neither economic development nor democratization was visible in many poor countries. Neither version of the utopia seemed to develop, and critics declared the modernization theory dead.
Since the end of the Cold War, however, the concept of modernization has taken on new life, and a new version of modernization theory has emerged, with clear implications for our understanding of where global economic development is likely to lead. Stripped of the oversimplifications of its early versions, the new concept
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