Much of the literature on the "sequencing" of economic and political liberalization suggests that the new democracies cannot successfully implement market-oriented reforms. Yet, post-communist transformations have shown that under certain conditions, economic liberalizers are able to gain the upper hand in the political process. In this interdisciplinary volume, eminent scholars offer a cohesive framework for analyzing the factors that work either for or against liberalization.
Opening with a discussion of the liberal ideal, the book considers historical, international, and economic policy conditions that bolster or undermine the efforts of liberalizers. The contributions explain how these forces interact, pinpoint the political coalitions these forces support, and speculate on the potential outcomes of the liberalization process. The contributors developed four scenarios: (1) a liberal utopia; (2) a new global "periphery," open to the international economy, in which weak democracies persist because their political institutions are a precondition for international aid and because they provide benefits to rent-seeking domestic groups; (3) a successful state-led transition to economic development and political liberalization; or (4) failure of reform efforts and a return to despotism.
Beverly Crawford is director of research at the Center for German and European Studies at the University of California-Berkeley and lecturer in the program on the political economy of industrial societies.