Echo

Its not about democracy, its about power  

Posted by Rezwan in ,

Polly Toynbee's latest piece in The Guardian "Try telling Bangladeshis that elections are bad for the poor" looks at the chasms of democracy:

"Democracy struggles to take root in countries so poor that the rice needed to keep a family alive is willingly traded for a vote: patronage and clans promising corrupt favours will trump political ideals every time. Political scientists observe that democratic governments rarely survive in countries with per capita incomes of less than $1,500 a year: Kenyans and Pakistanis live on under $1,000. The same research finds democracy rarely fails once per capita incomes rise to $6,000 a year."
But there are exceptions:
"Look at India, whose per capita income is still under $1,000, yet its democracy thrives with a free press and independent judiciary."
Polly cites:
China's People's Daily was quick to gloat over the Kenyan fallout: "Western-style democracy simply isn't suited to African conditions, but rather carries the roots of disaster."
And these are the rhetorics of the Chinese regime to stay in power. The Chinese people can throw challenge on Americans that the Chinese regime is more liberal than the US in some aspects e.g. Sex before marriage is not taboo (completely different situation than a decade ago), gay marriage is not banned (which is in some states in US), abortion is not illegal. He said that the regime is happy to stay in power and relaxing on these issues. People's rising purchasing power keeps them from turning against the regime.

However the above also shows that development is not depended on democracy. And power hungry regimes want to cash on these anomalies in democracies to stay in power. Bangladesh was on the upper curve of development during troubled democracies as well as during military regimes. In Bangladesh, there are many limitations in a functional democracy, votes can be purchased, wrong people can be chosen because of inaccuracies but democracy is one of the ways to empower people. Polly puts it:
But then ask why were so many very poor, mostly illiterate, people queuing under those canopies in Kaliakor. They were driven by the universal desire to chose their own rulers, however difficult and dangerous the road to democracy.

This entry was posted on February 12, 2008 at Tuesday, February 12, 2008 and is filed under , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

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