Democracy, Governance, and Economic Performance: East and Southeast Asia

Democracy, Governance, and Economic Performance: East and Southeast Asia

Democracy, Governance, and Economic Performance: East and Southeast Asia

Democracy, Governance, and Economic Performance: East and Southeast Asia

Synopsis

East and Southeast Asia is a fertile setting for exploring the links between political and economic development, Economic performance has been a primary source of political legitimacy in all the states in the study, despite moves to democracy in the early 1990s, yet the levels of developments vary markedly. Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore have turned to technological innovation, while the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia have focused on regional/global production systems. Outcomes after the financial crisis of the late 1990s will be determined by the capacity of political systems to sustain popular support, and by the capacity of institutions to rework dysfunctional economic arrangements.

Excerpt

In the late 1980s and the early part of the 1990s, a number of polities of East and Southeast Asia firmly engaged in a democratization process. At the same time and largely because of this process, a number of prominent regional leaders asserted that such a development was contrary to “Asian values” and would affect negatively the economic performance of the countries concerned. As it turned out, the economic performance of the countries of the region was affected, not by democratization, but by the globalization of the world economy and in the first instance by the financial consequences of this globalization: thus the downturn struck more a country such as Indonesia, which had not democratized, than a country such as Taiwan, which had fully democratized.

At the beginning of the third millenium as at the beginning of the 1990s, whatever the extent of the financial crises, the same question remains, equally urgent and equally daunting: does democratization affect economic perforamce negatively and, more specifically, does it affect economic performance negatively in the particular context of East and Southeast Asia? Such a question has not so far attracted the full attention of scholars, perhaps because too little emphasis was placed, after World War II, on the weight of political factors in socio-economic development: as a matter of fact, the converse relationship, that which relates democratization to previous economic performance, has been studied in an increasingly sophisticated manner since S. M. Lipset first raised the matter in the early 1960s in Political Man. Now, however, with regional leaders . . .

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