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  1. 1. Governance & Democracy Question three: Critically evaluate the progress of democratisation in the developing world. What issues and problems are associated with the definition and measurement of democracy? Mark: High Distinction Amy Winter s3353730
  2. 2. [GOVERNANCE & DEMOCRACY] 2 2 Introduction: This paper will introduce some of the philosophical and theoretical ideas that underpin the origins of democracy, followed by the dominant economic argument for development work with an objective to democratise the developing world. Whilst the economic causality of development and democratisation is somewhat refuted, this paper argues that this drives a certain type of dominant democracy in both the definition and measurement of democracy. A part of this essay is dedicated to the idea that there is an abundance of literature that focuses on the definitions rather than the measurements of democracy. Whilst the task of measuring democracy is more difficult, my argument is that its measurement and process is of far greater importance than the name it is given. Some examples will be given from the Middle East and North African (MENA) regions per this process of democratisation which highlights the problems of measuring democracies, their power distribution and the context. There are a number of complex variables in the process of democratisation which for instance do not ensure that positive democratic ratings will guarantee democratic outcomes. This leads to the exclusion of specific contextual variables which are difficult to measure or evaluate. Finally, if measuring democracy is too difficult an objective task, I suggest we focus on reducing the barriers to democracy. Some of these that will be mentioned are international influence and media and public relations. The biggest barrier in my argument, is the political inability of dominant democracies to separate their personal economic interests from the democratisation of other countries.
  3. 3. [GOVERNANCE & DEMOCRACY] 3 3 To understand modern democracy in the 21st CE, we should reflect on its ancient origins (Ehrenberg, V 1950). Aristotle, the pioneering philosopher of the Democratic model, founded his theory in individual reason (Ehrenberg, V 1950), and the manner with which citizens act collectively ‘to (achieve) excellent common deliberation.. a manner of excellent rule’ (Wilson 2011). Of many kinds of democratic theories, ‘Deliberative Democracy’ probably best supports Aristotle’s founding theory. It suggests that a group of citizens come together in a public-spirited harmony to genuinely aim to reach a common decision. I agree with Aristotle that participation in deliberation, demonstrates a political process that in my view, improves its democratic quality. This, coupled with the Socratic line of questioning such as ‘What do we owe each other?’ (Warburton, N 2012 p.30) and I feel a compelling foundation to base a social democracy. Whether these ideas are considered more ideology than reality, I argue that without a vision or imagination we struggle to construct the democracy that we deserve. Modern democratic and development theory however, arguably has a more economic slant. The early development theory; ‘modernisation theory’ represented those ideas such as Martin Lipset (1963) who drew this connect between economic growth and a political sequence that would be the solution to the underdevelopment problem. He argued that there was a positive correlation between the existence of democracy and economic factors, claiming that ‘economic development was the main driving force for democracy.. and the dominant explanatory variable in determining political democracy’ (Lipset, M 1963 p.4). This legitimised extensive influence of capitalism throughout the world, with an economic growth objective, and subsequent adverse hatred of communist or socialist regimes. Lipset’s economic growth argument however has been disproved as the most important factor that may lead to better democratisation. For instance, in countries who have grown economically and their populations have become more politically active since the Arab Spring of 2011, why is it that only one country (Tunisia) improved its democratic rating while many more in the region have been able to further entrench autocracy (Democracy Index 2011 2011, p.25)
  4. 4. [GOVERNANCE & DEMOCRACY] 4 4 Other authors also argue that economic indicators are not the best measure of democracy, and that the third world is at the mercy of capitalism, to ‘exist at the advancement of the first world…(causing) greater difficulty in establishing their own democracy’ (Pinkney, R 2002 p.38). Moore (1996) goes on to say that there isn’t any apparent correlation between democracy and national economic growth rates, yet it is referred to because of the more developed countries (US, UK, Australia etc) whom are both democracies and neo-liberal. AS suggested by Burnell & Calvert (1999), we should be careful about implying a cause and effect scenario rather than looking more deeply at each contextual historical basis of that nation state. As we can see the philosophical and theoretical origins of the ideas of democratisation derive from different spaces. Philosophy being a social space and the theoretical from an economic one. From this juncture we can arrive at a point to consider which are the appropriate influences of democracy in the developing world. Given various views we can ask if there are correlations at all between the economy and democracy and with a focus on the MENA regions, after first considering the varying definitions of democracy, and if the economic and social reasoning are reflected in them. There is a great attempt in literature to define the values, categories and kinds of democracies. Some of the key democratic values as offered by Jeff Haynes (2001) are; freedom of expression and association, universal suffrage, majority rule and open political contest or public contention. The Economic Intelligence Unit (EIU 2011) is potentially one of the most accepted organisations to categorise democratic regimes based on a number of certain elements; electoral processes and pluralism, functioning government, political participation, political culture and civil liberties. Then based on these values and categories, there are five main overlapping definitions; socio-economic (equal wealth), people’s participatory (such as socialism), representative, liberal & deliberative democracy (Coppedge, M 2012, p.32). For some reason, the result of these varying values and categorisations have over simplified the regimes in the world into two; the categorisation of the developed world into largely liberal or neo-liberal democracies (which also implies neo-liberal capitalism), and in the developing
  5. 5. [GOVERNANCE & DEMOCRACY] 5 5 world more of the participatory or socialist democracies such as in much of Latin America and in Africa. This has allowed a dominant kind of democracy to overshadow the others. To consider how we then evaluate the progress of democratisation is ultimately to compare the ‘progress’ of the developing world democracies in comparison to the developed world democracies. Whilst this may be true in practice, in theory democratisation is claimed to be; ‘the increases in the breadth and equality of relations between governmental agents and members of the government’s subject population, in binding consultation of a government’s subject population with respect to governmental personnel, resources and policy, and in protection of that population (especially minorities within it) from arbitrary action by governmental agents’ (Tilly, C 2004 p.14). However, the real democratisation that occurs is influenced by the dominant democracy as we will see examined below. It goes without saying that encouraging democratisation in the developing world has been assisted by successful media campaigns or public relations, arising from the Unites States in the World Wars period. Edward Bernays’, the inventor of public relations and later marketing, managed to ‘engineer consent’ of voting Americans on the Unites States Foreign policy, a clear political project to promote capitalism and stamp out communism. This is known as ‘The Domino Theory’ The Power Principle (Philharmoniker B & Von Karajan, H 2012) whereby the United States targeted key threats to global neo-liberalism, under a banner of ‘democratisation’. These threats would be defined as socialist to participatory democracies, such as Vietnam, Russia, Cuba, North Korea, Guatemala, Venezuela etc. By the Unites States imposing itself on the internal economic affairs of sovereign nations, and positing these nations as a threat to democracy in the United States and the world, is in itself an anti-democratic process. Again supporting the idea that there is one dominant type of democracy which sits atop all the types, and this is the neo-liberal one. Being called a democracy in the developing world doesn’t earn kudos in international relations if their economic regime is modelled on a socialist or
  6. 6. [GOVERNANCE & DEMOCRACY] 6 6 nationalist prototype (such as Venezuela). Other examples are how by nationalising fruit in Guatemala or oil in Iraq (Philharmoniker B & Von Karajan, H 2012) earned them the label appointed by the United States as ‘socialists’ or ‘communists’. These judgements may appears to be more about the economy than the kind of democracy but it appears the two are inseparable to the dominant neo-liberal democracies. This was an easy task for the unites states to define ‘communist’ or ‘socialist’ countries as anti-democratic to win public policy support, without the broad knowledge and of their actual functioning. Another example is given of the problems in granting the definition of ‘democracy’ to emerging nations in Africa. The simplicity on focusing on the definition rather than measurement in Africa, has meant that its ‘democratisation appears to have been largely a matter of form rather than content’ (Ake, C 1995 p.70). For instance the international recognition paid to emerging democracies, may ignore the content of that process. It may override looking at procedural flaws for instance excluding minorities in the national language, leading to the democratisation of disempowerment, or in other words the legitimisation of state sanctioned oppression. This is only one of the factors overlooked in the measurement of democracy. Then given the various kinds of democracies, we should question; ‘What kind of democracy are we talking about?’ (Coppedge, M 2012 p.52). ‘The limitations of existing democracy indicators are partly the result of the multidimensionality of democracy’ (Coppedge, M 2012 p.54) but this poses a lot of difficulties associated with what we are measuring and how. Electoral democracies and free elections are most often considered the starting point for a functioning democracy. Arguably voting is not the most important function of a democracy, however as it is simple to measure, (such as) Bollens’ suffrage indicator, it measures the percentage of the adult population entitled to vote’ (Coppedge, M 2012 p.47). While knowing the entitled voting population is helpful, it tells us little about the demographics of the ‘ineligible’ voting population which would be more explanatory in terms of the voting system and institutions, laws and processes of creating a electoral democracy.
  7. 7. [GOVERNANCE & DEMOCRACY] 7 7 Beyond measuring free and fair elections, Haynes (2001 p.32) suggests measuring a democracy is based on; an open and accountable government, civil and political rights and a democratic society. Diamond, L (1996 p. 457) suggests that other important elements to consider when measuring democracy are ‘stronger when the Human Development Index (HDI) is used as the key development indicator’, because this assumes greater political freedoms and liberties. Moreover, the increased focus on some elements at the expense of others must be more deeply critiqued for example; ‘the practice of allowing political rights and restricting civil liberties is indeed a growing phenomenon’ (Enberg, J & Ersson, S 2001 p.53). This suggests that some elements are more important than others, and highlights the politicking about the fact that we can’t have all of democracy at once, only the more convenient parts, and it is natural to use state resources to control the less convenient parts such as civil liberties. The regions of great interest to me in measuring the democratisation process, is the MENA regions. At present they are considered by the EIU as the most 'repressive regions’ in the world with 15 out of 20 countries categorised as authoritarian, despite economic growth in some of them. Therefore refuting modernisation theory that a growing economy will lead to democratisation. Moreover in Africa, only six countries are considered to run free and fair elections, while it is one of only two regions in the world with increasing ratings of democracy. Considering civil participation however, some authors argue that it is the level of contestation in a democracy which allows it to practice it’s democratic-ness. As we have seen recently in the Arab Spring in the MENA region, it is ‘at a critical juncture between democratic progress and deterioration. The best and worst performers in this year’s edition—Tunisia and Bahrain, and the gap between them constitutes the drastic contrast between the two governments’ commitments to strengthening democratic institutions.’ (Freedom in the World 2011: The Authoritarian Challenge to Democracy 2011). This demonstrates a problem that even with flawed voting systems, civil participation and liberties, some countries can improve their democracy rating, while others are becoming more authoritarian, such as the creation of single-party regimes (such as Uganda).
  8. 8. [GOVERNANCE & DEMOCRACY] 8 8 In the literature regarding democracy in Africa, it displays a number of conditions that are unfavourable to democracy; low incomes, governments dependent on aid and ethnically divided societies for instance (Herbst, J 2000). Analysing the context and history tells us more about why the issue of trying to put in place democratic processes may not lead to democratic outcomes. Power is a major obstacle to the proper distribution of power in many African nations. ‘African politics has placed a huge emphasis on a high premium of power’. This is in large part because of a historically low level of autonomy under colonialism ‘as power is overvalued, the struggle for it is intense’ (Ake, A 1995 p.72). The state formation of power concentrated in a president and ‘reproduced at each level of the state, right down to the traditional ruler in a community’ (Ake, A 1995 p.87), fails democracy by not allowing genuine democracy processes to occur. This state formation does not distribute power to the citizens, but to a few elites. Reducing these barriers to democracy or enhancing the enabling environment should be the focus of the measurement of democracy and its barriers.
  9. 9. [GOVERNANCE & DEMOCRACY] 9 9 Conclusion This essay has mentioned the origins of democracy to be able to reflect on this, to the modern day definitions and measurement of democracy. Some of the issues concerning measurement have been highlighted in this paper, although it is mentioned that there are also many contextual variables not considered in the measurement of democracy and that may cause its misrepresentation. My main concern is the inability of dominant democracies to separate the neo- liberal economy interests to the political structures in developing countries. I suggest that there must be an alternative to placing a focus on democracy with a conditional neo-liberal economy, to test if other economic systems can sustain democratic systems. This is already happening in much of Latin America, much to their disrepute as displayed in mainstream United States media and corporate politics. While there are so many elements, values and categories to consider at once, what do we consider the most important? It is free and fair elections, is it a civil society, or is it a nation that can choose their power structures and economic future without the paternalism or harassment from international influences. My opinion is that if the process of democratisation is influenced by international pressures, then these also need to be measured in the process of democratisation. A starting point may be to consider the contextual issues and problems that may make democracy untenable, then to set up the minimum defining features of the envisaged modern liberal democracy. At the same time I contest we can have one overarching definition of the best kind of democracy that suits both the United States and countries in the MENA regions. ‘The ideal concept of democracy would be simple enough to be relevant and measureable in every country’ (Coppedge, M 2012, p.32), with a focus on values, and the separation of the national economy to its political organisation. Again, while this concept is important, it is the power play in international relations and domestic politics that often decides on the nature of democracy.
  10. 10. [GOVERNANCE & DEMOCRACY] 10 10 References Ake, C 1995, ‘The Democratisation of Disempowerment’ in Hippler, J (ed), The Democratisation of Disempowerment. The problem of Democracy in the Third World., Pluto Press, London, pp.70-90 Burnell, P & Calvert, P 1999, Resilience of democracy : persistent practice, durable idea, Routledge, London Ehrenberg, V 1950, Origins of Democracy, Historia: Zeitschrift für Alte Geschichte, viewed 21 October 2012 < Coppedge, M 2012, ‘Conceptualising and Measuring Democracy: A New Approach’, viewed 10 October 2012, <> Democracy index 2011: Democracy under stress, Economics Intelligence Unit, 2011, viewed 15 October 2012, <> Diamond, L 1996, ‘Is the Third Wave Over?’, Journal of Democracy, vol. 7, no. 3, pp. 20-37. Enberg, J & Ersson, S 2001, ‘ Illiberal democracy in the third world. An empirical enquiry’. Democracy in the developing world : Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East, Polity Press, London Freedom in the World 2011: The Authoritarian Challenge to Democracy, Freedom House, viewed 15 October 2012 <> Haynes, J 2001, Democracy & Political Change in the Third World, 2nd edn, Routledge, London Herbst, J 2000, 'The Past & Future of State Power in Africa' in States and Power in Africa: Comparative Lessons in Authority & Control. Princeton University Press, Princeton pp.251-272
  11. 11. [GOVERNANCE & DEMOCRACY] 11 11 Hippler, J 1995, ‘Democratisation of the Third World After the End of the Cold War’, in Hippler, J (ed) The Democratisation of Disempowerment. The problem of Democracy in the Third World., Pluto Press, London, pp.1-32 Lipset, S 1963, ‘The value patterns of democracy: A case study in comparative analysis’. American Sociological review, vol.28, no.4. Moore, M 1996, ‘Is democracy rooted in material prosperity?’, in Luckham, R & White, G (eds) 1996, Democratization in the South : the jagged wave, Machester University Press, pp.37-62 Pinkney, R 2002 2nd edn, Democracy in the Third World, Lynne Rienner, Pub, London Philharmoniker B & Von Karajan, H 2012, The Power Principle, non-profit movie documentary, Mentonia Films Tilly, C 2004, Social Movements 1768-2004, Paradigm Publishers London Warburton, N 2012, A little history of Philosophy, Yale University Press, Connecticut Wilson, JM 2011, ‘Deliberation, democracy, and the rule of reason in Aristotle’s politics’. The American Political Science Review, vol. 105, no. 2 viewed 21 October 2012