Regimes, Politics, and Markets: Democratization and Economic Change in Southern and Eastern Europe

By José María Maravall; Justin Byrne | Go to book overview

Preface

This book analyses the mutual influences between politics and the economy. More specifically, it studies the relationships between democracies, economic growth, social redistribution, and political culture. Do democracies promote economic development or, on the contrary, are dictatorships more efficient? Are democratization processes the product of previous experiences of development, or of economic crises? Are democracies able to redistribute resources better and more equitably than dictatorships? And, finally, can democracies increase the number of democrats? These are the principal questions which this book will explore from a comparative perspective, examining above all the experiences of Southern and Eastern Europe.

The book may be considered as an exercise in 'thinkful wishing'. It defends the thesis that democratization processes took place in the context of economic difficulties which were to a large extent attributed to the political institutions of the dictatorships, even if these difficulties came after a long period of economic growth. It also argues that the new democracies had more incentives and information to face the economic crises than the authoritarian regimes, whilst the capacity of the governments depended on the nature and extent of their mandates, the degree of consensus, and the nature of political learning within their societies. And, that despite the tendency for the macroeconomic policies of the different governments to converge, inspired by the intellectual maps of their political leaders, social democratic and conservative governments continued to be distinguished by their redistributive outcomes, fundamentally due to the differences in their fiscal and social policies. Finally, the book maintains that democrats usually preceded democracy, the legitimacy of which was to a large extent autonomous of economic results, whilst citizens' opinion of their regimes, and of politics in general, was mainly determined by the actions of politicians, the social conditions of life, and the performance of the institutions.

Democracy is not just a means to an end; même défoncée, to use

-v-

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