Why Does Democracy Facilitate Development?

23 Mar 2015 27 Apr 2017

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Democracy provides greater protection of property rights than authoritarian rules; thereby, presenting an enhance capability to intervene in conflicts; democracy also creates better information and trustworthy reaction by average citizens, as John Locke sees the consent of the governed very crucial in the international system (Trelbilcock and Prado 2011, Dunne 2011). According to Immanuel Kant, all countries should be democratised, to reduce the occurrences of war with the claim that states democratic states do not fight one another (Dunne 2011). ). This paper will argue that democracy does not facilitate development rather it can only present openings. The essay will first explain what democracy means, and secondly, evaluate how democracy has led to development then lastly evaluate how democracy does not led to development.

What is democracy?

Democracy is seen as government by the people, that is chosen by the people also be referred to as a government a system where people govern themselves in another way referred to as 'government by consent' (Cohen 1973, Beuningen 2007) this means that people can make their voices to be heard, this is done through representatives of the people, and is also a prerequisite for a market economy that is functional, which promotes growth, human development and social equality (Smith 2009).


Democracy is seen to be the 'political development'. As in the opinions of Fukyama who that states would become more democratic, where he referred to democracy as the best form of human organisation. This political system encouraged by most donors as a precondition for the development of recipient states. Democracy ensures the rights of citizens are safe guarded, the political and civil rights of citizens such as voting protesting and so on gives them the opportunity to draw attention to their needs and demand appropriate public action, making the government respond to the people's suffering due to the pressure that is put on them (Sen 1999) Democracy is seen as government where the poor majority rule (Arblaster 2002)

Most of the rich nations of the world are democratic states unlike the third world countries that have recently been overwhelmed by the wind of democracy in countries such as Nigeria, Niger, Egypt, and Iraq. The development in Botswana is sometimes associated to its democratic nature since its independence as Picard said Botswana was the one of the few multiparty states that was in Africa (Picard 1985) considering the time Picard wrote his book most African countries were under the military regimes. It can be argued that it probably gives a reason for Botswana's development, the nation Sen referred to as the Oasis of democracy' in Africa; developing and reinforcing a democratic system is important part of the process of development (Sen 1999:150), that it can present a reason for the obvious difference in terms of the development of other African nations that have been under authoritarian regimes. Underdevelopment caused instability in the government of African states and possibly led to the corruption as most of the military officers tried to enrich themselves using their political power (Woddis in Smith 2009).


The development in undemocratic states such as China has been faster than democratic states such as India, it cannot be said that authoritarian regimes do better in economic growth than democratic regimes. China and India is a success in terms of poverty reduction globally. According to Huntington and Moore in Friedman and Gilley (2005), in the 1960s, it seemed unlikely, if India's democracy would continue, however, the growth continued, India spent more on education than China did, and moved to grain self-reliance. Consequently, soon after Mao's demise China began to flourish still under a socialist government, presenting a picture that a nation with same political system could boom or collapse in its economics, the case of China-India demonstrated that democracy was not substandard to authoritarianism (Friedman 2005). According to Frank and Amin in Hynes(1996) dependency theorists' argument is that democracy cannot be achieved through poverty and exploitation except through economic and political independence; Haynes1996 added that the level of economic development in a amalgamated democracy seem to be of less significance.

The question to answer is why nations such as the Saudi Arabia and China develop despite the undemocratic system of governance? According to Haynes (1996), Saudi Arabia's GNP is four times that of democratic republic of Poland. In Sen 1999 opinion, democracy should be looked at as presenting prospects not a spontaneous cure to problems as quinine function is to cure malaria. However, chances democracy presents must be really taken in other to achieve the anticipated outcome. The behaviour of a particular leader in any nation gives a better position in determining if a nation develops or under develops. Similarly, Adam Smith in his book 'established rules of behaviour' explained that Significance might be devoted to the manner in which people in position of power and authority Sen 1999). For instance, if a leader of an undemocratic state like China has the development of his country in mind; he would come up with policies that will improve the wellbeing of his fellow citizens.


In conclusion, democracy can be assist democracy but it has to me accompanied by the willingness of the leader to develop his country by setting up policies that would develop a nation. It is also important to consider the fact that how many citizens in poor countries at are really worried about having the freedom that democracy preaches, most poor people just want a better life, any way that development will come does not matter (Sen 1999). If leaders of nations will be more patriotic and concern about the well-being of its people even in an authoritarian government there would be so much development. These give more insight on the reason why this essay argues that democracy is only an opportunity for development.

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