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Analysing the relationship between democracy and development

Book/book chapter

Written by Alina Rocha Menocal

As part of the annual Commonwealth Good Governance 2011/12: Democracy, development and public administration, Alina Rocha Menocal examines the linkages between democracy and development in the Commonwealth.

Section II begins by defining basic concepts, including democracy and development, in minimalist and more substantive terms. It also highlights the importance of democracy as a process and development as an outcome.

The paper then goes on to assess some key (causal) linkages between democracy and development in Section III, discussing in particular modernisation theory and the emergence of democracy; the argument that democracy is a (pre)requisite for development; and the opposite argument that in fact authoritarian regimes are better at promoting development. This section also looks at some of the challenges posed by emerging democracies and proposes taking a new look at modernisation theory for some insights.

Section IV concludes by summarising a few key texts in the literature, which in the aggregate point to the fact that the evidence linking democracy and development in one way or another remains inconclusive and highly contested. On this basis, the paper highlights the intrinsic value of the democratic process, while also noting that the expectations placed on (emerging) democracies to generate development outcomes need to be tempered.

The analytical review ends by suggesting that,when thinking about democracy and development, it is essential to ‘bring the state back in’, and that the international community needs to think about how the different goals it seeks to pursue interact, and to grapple more seriously with the ensuing tensions.

Alina Rocha Menocal