Markets and Politics in Central Asia: Structural Reform and Political Change

Markets and Politics in Central Asia: Structural Reform and Political Change

Markets and Politics in Central Asia: Structural Reform and Political Change

Markets and Politics in Central Asia: Structural Reform and Political Change

Synopsis

Over a decade after national independence, it is apparent that the contrasting development strategies adopted by the five new governments of Central Asia have led to significantly different outcomes. This well-written and timely book analyses how the development strategies of these countries have affected their transition from communist governance.

Excerpt

Free markets and democracy are related. Open markets and open minds mutually reinforce one another. It is natural then on theoretical grounds to conclude that the shortest paths to democracy and free markets for countries with distorted economies and authoritarian politics should be economic and political reform programs that are parallel, complementary and contemporaneous. Yet empirical observation does not offer much support for this conclusion. Some countries succeed in economic reform, but not in political reform. Some succeed in political change, but fail to make progress in economic development. The countries of Latin America in recent years have enjoyed comparatively good success with democratization, yet they have been less successful with economic liberalization. During the same time period many Asian states have had relatively good success with economic reform but have been less successful in democratization. In some African states political reform has not been accompanied by economic progress while in others political reform is championed as the cause for economic progress. In Russia political reform preceded market reform, but at least in the early stages of Russia’s reform heavy doses of “shock therapy” produced ample shock and only modest therapy. At the same time, China made great progress in economic reform; but China’s reform was adopted, at least in part, as a deliberate strategy to forestall political change. If democracy and market freedom are so closely related theoretically, why is the empirical relationship between political and economic liberalization so complex and varied?

The countries of Central Asia - Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan - emerged as independent states from the disintegration of the USSR in 1991. For over a decade these five countries have been striving to carry out market and political reforms. These republics were previously integrated into the broadly uniform network of Soviet political institutions and economic relationships. From this single point of departure, these countries have pursued reforms that took them in very different directions. What can the experience of these countries teach us about the relationship between markets and politics in Central Asia? Answering this question is the principal aim of this book. The book seeks to explain the relationship between market reform and political change in the specific circumstances of the Central Asian countries.

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