By Jasper Wong, honorable mention in the CIPE 2013 Blog Competition. Read the rest of the winning entries here.
In this decade, perhaps the defining story of global significance is the rise of China in the global economy as it displaces Japan to become the world’s second biggest economy. It is no coincidence then that the prevailing view that democracy should go hand-in-hand with development was seriously challenged at the time as China’s economic success overshadowed U.S. culpability in the Global Financial Crisis (some say, Western Financial Crisis), which saw the “largest and sharpest drop in economic activity of the modern era.”
Yet China’s development wasn’t the first to challenge the link between economic and political freedom, as it sits fittingly in the context of East Asia’s developmental trajectory, most exemplified by the phenomenon of the Four Asian Tigers during the 1970s and 1980s. Similarly, the accompanying story to their remarkable growth was the political environment in which growth took place under authoritarian leaders like Park Chung Hee and Lee Kuan Yew.
While South Korea and Taiwan have gained strides in being more democratic, Singapore appears to be stuck in limbo, classified as a “hybrid regime” and ranked at 81st position, well below countries like Indonesia and Malaysia in the latest 2012 Democracy Index published by the EIU.
In global surveys, Singapore has consistently ranked top in governance as its zero-tolerance for corruption, coupled with meritocratic efficiency, are the usual suspects in explanation. Yet ironically, recent times have not bode well for the ruling party of the Singapore government, having just emerged from the latest election with its lowest support ever since independence (60.14 percent of total votes) and facing an increasingly critical electorate.
“Scientists have discovered an enormous energy source for the world…located in the poorest countries in the world,” announced Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) President John Hamre recently. “If we tap it, this energy source will double or triple GDP growth in those countries.”
The resource Hamre was discussing is not a fossil fuel like coal or oil and is not a new form of renewable energy. His remarks were a reference to the 1.8 billion young people in the world between the ages of 10 and 24. This youth population is the largest the world has ever seen and their contributions to society have drastic implications for the development of emerging markets and fragile states. If youth become productive civic and economic participants in their communities, the benefits are immense. However, when young people are forced to the fringes of society and do not have sufficient opportunities to participate in society the consequences can be devastating.
In order to help policy, society, and business leaders better understand how to ensure that young people are best positioned to be drivers of growth and development, CSIS recently developed the Global Youth Wellbeing Index in partnership with the International Youth Foundation and Hilton Worldwide.
Recent developments concerning property rights violations and popular riots in Venezuela remind us that democratic and economic development is not always a gradual forward-looking process but instead is characterized by periods of progress as well as setbacks. Separation of powers, property rights, the rule of law, the respect of human rights and the rights of minorities are essential components of a functioning democratic and free market system.
Reflecting on the challenging situation in Venezuela and the business community’s experience of threats to private property rights, Jorge Roig, President of the Venezuelan Federation of Chambers of Commerce FEDECAMARAS, was invited by the Free Enterprise and Democracy Network to share his views in the latest Economic Reform Feature Service article.
Free Enterprise and Democracy Network (FEDN) members have been providing technical assistance in democratic transitions and sharing their experiences in economic reform. Here are some highlights of their activities.
In December, former Finance Minister of the Philippines and Chairman of the Institute for Solidarity in Asia Dr. Jesus Estanislao held roundtable discussions with five political parties as part of a joint project with the International Republican Institute to enhance political parties’ capacity to develop economic platforms. Dr. Estanislao shared his experience with the Philippines’ democratic and economic transition, as well as the country’s approach to decentralization.
Posted in Global
Tagged democracy, FEDN
Mahmoud Bader is CIPE-Atlas Corps Think Tank LINKS Fellow at the Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED). This post also appeared on The Atlantic Council blog.
As Libya faces numerous challenges with the existence of federalists and militia groups, the question of decentralization grows in urgency. Libyans need to bolster local government in an effort to leave their past behind and meet their everyday needs, but lack the adequate legal and constitutional framework to ensure better governance. As Libya struggles to fill the remaining seats in the Constitutional Committee, it must also consider the language it plans to adopt to protect the decentralization process.
The move towards local governance emerged during the 2011 revolution when local councils arose to handle city affairs, an arrangement that continues today. Libyans welcomed the change. With the former regime centralized in Tripoli, citizens traveled inordinate distances from all over the country to complete tasks that they could have handled in their own cities, including basic bureaucratic services like stamps and signatures that could easily have been provided in other cities.
This article originally appeared on the Thomson Reuters TrustLaw Governance blog.
Thailand lifted its state of emergency, and the February 2 elections have been annulled. Encouragingly, the leaders of the government and the opposition are signaling – albeit tentatively and obliquely – a willingness to negotiate an end to the country’s ongoing political crisis. But even if Thailand can extricate itself from its latest political quagmire, the next crisis is probably not far off if the underlying problems are not addressed.
More than any other issue, corruption has served to delegitimize successive governments in the eyes of competing segments of Thai society. In 2006, the military ousted an elected government and in 2008, the Supreme Court disbanded an elected government; in both cases, the stated justification was corruption. Likewise, allegations of corruption are among the paramount drivers of the anti-government protests taking place in Bangkok today, just as they were in the color-coordinated protests of recent years.
And this frustration with corruption is not limited to corruption in electoral processes or campaign fraud. Corruption is a daily phenomenon for many citizens and businesses, and people are fed up with it.
By Madalina Maria Iancu, 2013 CIPE Blog Competition Winner. Read the other winning blogs here.
There are not many “peaceful” revolutions in the history of mankind, especially during the last decades of our modern history. Even if we think to join these two words — “revolution” and “peaceful” — it does sound a bit unusual.
This is the reason why I chose to write about this example of a totally atypical revolution, which happened recently in Iceland. In my opinion, the Icelandic Revolution is an example of the fact that a revolution doesn’t have to be violent and bloody but peaceful and civilized and with a positive approach things can be changed in order to improve the status quo and to create a better standard of living.
There were also other movements also called “peaceful,” as it is a new paradigm, but still…nothing like Iceland.
One of the characteristics that made this revolution so atypical is its duration. It all started in 2008, when the main bank of Iceland was nationalized, the currency of Iceland devalued and the stock market halted. The country was in bankruptcy. During 2008 – 2009 as a result of the citizen’s protests and demonstrations, both the prime minster and the whole government resigned. New elections were held. In spite of these changes, Iceland remained in a bad economic situation.