Democratization can be seen simply as a political concept of a government chosen by the people for themselves from among completing political parties. Within which a change of government is possible without overturning the whole regime. It can define as a system in which people are able to make choices regarding their lives in such a way as to realize their potential. Development means progress in a range of areas. It must mean economic progress, but it must also involve social and political progress, as well as the fulfilment of basic human needs – material, emotional and cerebral.
I defined “democratization” as a political change moving in a democratic direction from less accountable to more accountable government, from less competitive elections to fuller and fairer competitive elections, from severely restricted to better protected civil and political rights, from weak autonomous association to more autonomous and more numerous association in civil society from 1989 in African countries, three main common types of political regimes have been identifying in relations to democracy: authoritarian, partial democracy and liberal democracy.
Firstly, authoritarian state is one which is not accountable to its citizens through free and fair election, but does impose or enforce it a power through radical mobilization of their entire society for the purpose of nation building and development with socialist ideologies. Examples are china and Vietnam in the 1990s.
Capitalist authoritarian regimes exercise free economies with nepotism, that private entrepreneurs in authority in government pursue personal agendas without the intervention of the state. But those citizens who express political views by criticizing the government are dealt with vigorously by the security forces or special security agencies of the state. There are also lack of information for citizens due to the secrecy in running of the state with intense scrutiny of any association or organization that is deemed a threat to or critical of the ideologies of the government. Nigeria in the late 1980s to the mind 1990s is a typical example.
Secondly, partial democracy is said to be “a mixed type of regime or state democracy”, “Ambiguous regime”. It is a regime where there is some form of accountability on the part of the government in a defined way. Elections are held but in a way that only certain candidates can be elected, irrespective of the presence of opposition parties. The incumbent makes sure the election is ‘rigged’ but controlling institutions like the electoral commission and it associated bodies responsible for the elections. There are also restrictions of the rights of the freedom of expression and or access to information. Other organizations or association exist but are in way controlled or monitored as to what they can say or do in relation to democracy.
Thirdly, Liberal democracy is the type that allows citizens or political parties to compete in elections and be accountable for their citizens. The parties are empowered to act as agents of their own development. There is the right of expression without the danger of severe political consequences. citizens within a liberal democracy have the right to express themselves without the danger or severe punishment on political matters broadly defined, including criticism of officials, the government, the regime, the socio-economic order, the prevailing ideologies and to form relatively independent association or organizations including independent political parties and interest group.
However, there is also called participatory democracy, which involves people at local levels through one party to other branches of the state and the economy. This in a way is said to practice people involvement in state affairs, like the trade unions, women’s’ unions and others in Vietnam for example.
Adversely, critics claim such a practice is not a form of democracy, another example is Uganda in the late 1980s and 1990s where Kasfir says that, this type of democracy was “Wholly new to Ugandans, who had always been ruled by chiefs or male elders before, during and after colonization” (Kasfir, 1998a, p.54).
According to the different views, democratization stimulates development referred to the Washington consensus which was widespread in official Western aid circles and among their academic support. Basically, the view was that a combination of liberal market, the capitalism in international circumstances, liberal democracy and good governance domestically were reciprocally reinforced a good cycle and provided core elements of a comprehensive strategy for development success equally valid for all types of society. The aid agencies like the World Bank and IFM tried to stimulate development by attaching liberal democracy conditions to aid packages and supporting initiatives that encourages good governance. Agencies also insisted that free markets were the only suitable economic mechanism for substantial development within global capitalism.
These strategies were reinforced by Surjit Bhalla study (1997). He argued that democracy was strongly associated with greater freedom. Careful analysis of this data brought him to a straightforward conclusion. “More freedom”, he found, “is unmistakable good for both growth and social development” (Potter, 2000, p.375).
The neo-liberal school sees economic globalization as a benign force for change, which –through free trade and capital mobility is creating a global market civilization in which prosperity, wealth, power and liberal democracy are being diffused around the world. Neo-liberals support the idea that market capitalism has triumphed across the globe, so much so that there is no longer a viable alternative development path.
Referring democratization to socio-economic development, many different approaches recognize that economic crisis can destroy liberal democracy and that severe economic underdevelopment. It is true to said that, the growing snowball of autonomous groups can and to strengthen democratization prospects, even though these groups and associations can be hostile to democratization at the same time.
When democratization constitution is established in a country, a political settlement is agreed between the different political parties’ interest in society. The settlement provides guarantees, although the government may change due to competitive elections. But the major interest in society will not be disadvantaged in a vital way on the contrary, development. A process commonly turbulent and radical if successful – must transform the fundamental structures of economic and social life. By that means, it produces new political interest and challenge established ones.
In the World Bank opinion (1992, p.1) the Good government is central to creating and sustaining and environment which promotes the growth of strong, just, and fair development, and is an essential compliment of correct economic policies.
‘Governance is how power is exercised in the management of country’s economic and social resource for development – and good governance is synonymous with sound development management’.
Par Mr Césaire KAKPO