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

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

1
Economies and Political Regimes

In this chapter I will analyse some aspects of the relationship between the economy and politics in the new democracies. I am going to study this relationship from two perspectives in order to determine, first, whether politics affects economic performance, and secondly, whether this in turn has political consequences. I will begin by examining the effects economies have on regimes, in order to discover if economic development fosters democratization, if, conversely, it stabilizes dictatorships, or whether it is the economic failure of dictatorships which leads to democracy. Secondly, I will study the effects of regimes on the economy, to see if it is possible to differentiate between the efficiency of dictatorships and democracies, and if so, how these differences might be explained.

We live in a period of exceptional experimentation in democracy and political institutions. The number of democracies doubled during the fifteen years after the 'revolution of the carnations' in Portugal in April 1974. Competitive elections were held in Portugal, Greece, and Spain; in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay, Peru, and the Philippines; in South Korea; in Pakistan; in Turkey; in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe; and in the federations of the former Soviet Union. Yet in the majority of these countries the emergence of new democracies coincided with deep economic crises which were particularly acute in countries such as Brazil, Argentina, Peru, Hungary, Poland, or Yugoslavia. This combination of political and economic transformations poses an enormous challenge to the social sciences. What can they tell us about the viability of different institutions, the cultural characteristics which influence the consolidation or 'quality' of democracies, or the relationships between the economy and politics, between efficiency and legitimacy? To what extent can they help us to interpret scenarios, to identify and evaluate different alternatives, to take decisions? The challenge is all the greater

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