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Beyond 'constraints': Promoting the politics of economic growth in developing countries

Working papers

Economic growth is a political process requiring effective political leadership, vision and sense of national purpose. As a result of the extraordinary influence on economics of the ‘Whig interpretation of History’ based on the English ‘Glorious Revolution’ of 1688, international development has however been more concerned with formal constraints on political authority as a necessary condition for economic growth. Such constraints by the ‘veto power’ of formal checks and balances institutions, are supposedly essential for a government’s ‘credible commitment’ to good economic policies necessary for investor confidence.

In the context of weak institutions and civil society prevailing in many developing countries however, improving economic growth dynamics through constraints on power by formal constitutional arrangements is often politically unrealistic in the short- to

medium-term. In fragmented societies prioritising constraints over building consensus threatens to exacerbate the political instability that harms economic growth. International development partners should pay greater attention to finding the means for supporting economic growth through political leadership, vision and sense of national purpose.

Max Everest-Phillips