Development and Democracy: The Muslim
World in a Comparative Perspective
The issue of the relationship between development and democracy has been debated among development experts, political scientists, and sociologists for the past fifty years. However, tensions between development and democracy go back to earlier times. They were apparent in the case of many European countries that were latecomers to the process of modernization. Furthermore, Europe was the birthplace of nondemocratic models of development best exemplified by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. The process of development in European countries has culminated in the establishment of democratic forms of government, albeit fairly late in the case of south and east European countries.
In the non-Western world, until recently, development had not led to democratization, with postwar Japan (with its unique conditions) being the exception. Some developing countries have had democratic governments, such as India. Others in Latin America and East Asia, such as Taiwan, Korea, and Chile, have made a transition to democracy. Malaysia, a Muslim country, has achieved an impressive level of development while maintaining a fairly democratic form of government. Turkey is another, though less impressive, example of development within a more or less democratic system. Other Muslim countries, especially those in the Middle East, have neither achieved significant levels of development nor established democratic governments.
The question thus arises, To what extent have the development strategies of Muslim countries, especially those in the Middle East, contributed to their failure to democratize. To answer this question, it is necessary to first address the following issues: (1) What are the principal dilemmas faced by developing countries in balancing development and democracy? (2) What form of development is more conducive to democracy? (3) What features of the patterns of development in the Middle East have been most detrimental to the process of democra