Intro to Comparative Politics
Economic development refers to the gradual progress in a given economy. It entails the use of new technologies, movement from the traditional agricultural-based economies to the adoption of industry –based economies, as well as the general improvement of people’s living standards. Democracy, on the other hand, refers to the rule by majority or majority rule. Current essay seeks to elaborate the relation that exists between economic development and democratic system of governance. Democracy is a governance system that has taken prominence all over the world in the past century with political analysts postulating the future development of it.
There is a direct and indirect relation between economic development and democracy in that one depends on the other and vice versa. Democracy as a system of governance brings political stability and eases tension in a given state. As a result, such peaceful state of affairs provides a conducive environment for economic development. With peace and stability achieved by democratic governance system, citizens of a given country can participate in development activities, such as farming, mining, trading among other activities that will help anticipate economic development. The lack of peace and stability as observed in non-democratic states, civil wars causing the displacement of people from their homes and many other factors create unsuitable environment for engaging in activities that can positively influence economic development.
Economic development also relies on democracy in that democracy as a system of governance establishes strong leadership that is endorsed by the people. It, in other words, creates political stability that motivates investors to invest into a given country. Investors may be foreign or local or even both foreign and domestic.
Investors accelerate economic development through their investments establishing industries and, thus, creating employment opportunities for the natives. Investors prefer investing into politically stable countries as a way of safeguarding their investment. In economics, the investments always pose a risk but it becomes even bigger when one chooses to invest into a politically unstable country.
Political instability caused by dictatorship has led to the outbreaks of wars or military coups that have instigated massive loss of property and lives. It explains why investors take a keen interest in the system of governance that guarantees them a lasting stability. They may also invest into other areas, such as banking and insurance that may provide additional opportunities for individuals to acquire capital for further investment into a given state. All the above-mentioned activities eventually lead to economic development.
Another relation between economic development and democracy is that democracy provides stability in terms of leadership. The stability enables the government of the day to exploit the available mineral resources in a given country to the fullest for the benefits of the citizens. Exploitation of natural resources, such as oil, precious minerals among others generate revenue to the government. Such revenue is then invested into the development activities in the different sectors of the economy. Some of the exploited minerals allow earning the country foreign exchange.
Exploitation of natural resources also creates local jobs for the natives of a given country, from which individuals earn a living and later acquire capital for investment. In many non-democratic states, civil wars define the state of affairs and in case of infighting, the country’s mineral resources remain untouched or, in other cases, foreigners who pursue their selfish interest exploit them. Therefore, democracy provides stability in a given state that, in turn, provides a good environment for exploitation of minerals and other natural resources.
Democracy further provides an opportunity for leadership to individuals elected by the people based on merit. It provides an opportunity for competent leadership as chosen by the public. It has a direct impact on economic development in that the elected leaders will have diverse ideas on the issue of economic development. Since the leaders will have the required competence in terms of both leadership and academic qualifications, it only follows that they will use the same skills and knowledge to advance economic development. It stands in a contrast to dictatorship that believes in appointment of leaders to fill various positions in government irrespective of their competency level.
Dictatorship leads to inefficiency in service delivery, as well as a shortage of economic development ideas. Such situation is caused by the fact that the leadership appoints leaders to meet personal objectives as opposed to meeting the economic evolution of the country in question. The same leaders also may take advantaged provided by leadership to use the economy for personal gains, thus, damaging the economy. In brief, democracy affects economic stability directly through the leadership. If the leaders hold their positions based on merits and election, then chances of economic development remain high. But if they attain their positions based on illegal actions then they may worsen the state of things as economic development requires ideas and competence.
Democracy as a system of governance provides for accountability in leadership. Leaders in a democratic state remain accountable to the people who elected them. And if at some point they fail to perform their duties then the same individuals lose their power and may face legal suits for violating the constitution. Democratic states operate under a rule of law and a supreme constitution that guides how individuals interact at local levels and with their leadership.
In case the laws and legal procedures are broken, the legal measures are taken against the violator. It, therefore, creates possibility for accountability. Resources entrusted to leaders for economic development must serve exceptionally for that purpose, as well as the leaders. It limits the chances of individuals misappropriating public funds to cause the economic development. Democracy also provides the citizens with an opportunity to reshuffle their leaders after a given period, e.g. after every five years. Therefore, it creates an opportunity for the citizens to recall incompetent leadership and elect a more competent one. Competent leadership contributes to the economic development. It confirms that democracy has great influence on economic development and both of them have closed relations that cannot be separated.
In the modern world where democracy has become the most preferred system of governance, many countries have taken measures towards adopting it. Even some monarchs have flexed their principles to incorporate democracy through establishing constitutional monarchs. Democratic states have implemented bilateral, as well as trilateral relations that have improved the economic development in their respective countries. By so doing, they isolate dictatorship states that continue suffering slow economic development.
Democratic states have united to form union trading blocks. Such blocs have abolished border tariffs and even adopted the use of a common currency. It has eased the movement of goods from one state to another that has led to rapid economic development. The integration of such democratic states to create a regional trading block has increased the market area upon which individuals can buy and sell their goods. Such actions increased market size, as well as commercial activities in the respective regions, thus, resulting in rapid economic development. The same cannot be said about dictatorship states that continue operating in isolation. Such kind of isolation slows down economic development by protecting the market area from the residents in the given country.
Democracy also has a direct relationship to the economic development in the country. Moreover, practicing democracy allows its citizens to cross the border to other countries in search of better living conditions. Working in foreign countries allows such individuals to send home income from the same foreign countries. Revenue generated from individuals working in the diaspora account for an immense percentage of the countries income. The same income is directed to other sectors of the economy to finance development agendas. They also bring back skills and knowledge in their respective fields of specialization that help in changing the approach to doing things in the country. Such new skills and strategies acquired may provide a better alternative that may boost economic development.
Democracy relates to economic development due to the fact that as a system of governance it leads to equitable distribution of resources in a given state. When resources are equally distributed in a particular country, then it results in equal development. But if they are used in favor of certain regions, then development inequality may arise with severe reparations.
However, democracy may also have a negative implication on economic development in that since democracy is the rule of the majority, the same majority may abuse their power to marginalize the minority. It will undoubtedly have negative effect on the economic development, as the two parties will be in a constant opposition, trying to safeguard resources for their own development. The minority may ultimately lose the war, thus, preventing themselves from development and participation in economic activities. The infighting between the two groups may also create tension and animosity, which might destroy the peaceful coexistence necessary for economic development.
Tension in a given country slows down development progress and affects economic development. The unequal distribution of resources may start from the national level through the amount of revenues allocated to particular regions. Since the majority controls every aspect of the government, then they receive a good chance of manipulating the budgetary allocation in favor of particular regions.
Democratic states also hold elections after a given period to give the electorate an opportunity to change their leadership. Such regular elections cost the countries an enormous amount of money drawn from the public revenue. The money would have been invested into other economic sectors to boost development instead. The elections also cause tension in the respective countries that in most cases brings economic development activities to a standstill. In such cases investors remain aside, as well, and wait for the outcome of the elections before they continue with their investment agendas. Some elections may end in disputes resulting in the outbreak of civil wars, loss of life and destruction of property. Some countries conduct re-runs at an extra cost, thus, making the entire electoral process costly. It requires much time to recover the cash spend in the result of such elections.
Democracy provides that counties should hold elections at regular intervals to give the electorate a chance of choosing a new leader. Every leadership that takes the reins of power tries to implement its own policies on economic development. Some of such policies require much time to achieve their intended results. When a successive government receives power after election, it discards the previous unaccomplished economic development policies and plans and the sequence repeats. Economic development plans and policies have long-term agendas that may last longer than the reign of a particular government.
Unfortunately, many countries lack appropriate implementation strategy for the same policies and plans that can help the successive regimes to continue developing them. It eventually results in poor economic development due to the unaccomplished economic development projects. It should be noted that the abandoned economic development projects cost countries more than expected. Moreover, such projects do not benefit anyone in particular, since they become half-accomplished and, thus, dysfunctional. The only possible solution to the situation is formulation of short-term economic development goals that governments can comfortably accomplished within the stipulated time of its mandate. The time limit of many governments reign is ten years, within which most of the economic development short-term plans can be accomplished.
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Democracy has both negative and positive impacts on economic development but since the advantages outweigh the disadvantages, it warrants adoption. Countries are more likely to achieve rapid economic development under democratic governance due to liberalism and accountability. Democracy determines the level and rate of economic development in many of the modern countries practicing democracy.
The adoption of democracy and the most effective governance system is still gaining prominence especially with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the amalgamation of democracy into monarchical systems of government. Countries have seen the importance and need of embracing democracy for economic development. America provides an excellent example of how democracy is essential to economic development. The country has been playing an active role in assisting developing countries in embracing development over the years.
Moreover, America has helped in overthrowing dictators and establishing democratic governments. Implementation of democracy may be expensive but still it gives many benefits. Embracing democracy remains the best way of achieving rapid economic development. Such kind of leadership causes not only economic development but also establishes good diplomatic connections between countries. Such bilateral and multilateral connections have a significant influence on the economic development.
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