The Uncertain Future of the G8 Strategy on the Development of Africa

At their summit meeting at Gleneagles in July 2005,the G8 heads of state resolved to enhance their efforts to consolidate Africa. The reason was that, three years after their Kananaskis meeting, their former strategy had obviously failed to reach the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals (MDG) in sub-Saharan Africa. In concrete terms, it was decided at Gleneagles not only to increase the funding of the region but also to extend cooperation to partners such as the African Union (AU). There are four questions that arise in this context: Will a strategy of massive external funding sustainably promote economic development and the alleviation of poverty in Africa? Are partner institutions such as the AU, the NEPAD, the African Development Bank (ADB), and regional organizations capable of implementing such a strategy? Will the resultant changes move in the desired direction? Are the donor countries capable of providing the resources they promised? The figure that dominates the report of the Commission for Africa (CFA), which handled the preparation of the conference, as well as the UN report on MDG compliance is that of Jeffrey Sachs. Mr Sachs believes that the African poverty trap is caused by a low savings-to-income ratio in combination with a high population growth rate or, in other words, by stagnating capital accumulation, which prevents a self-supporting, dynamic development of the economy. Now, 40 percent of the funds are earmarked for satisfying fundamental needs and alleviating poverty. Subsequent funding is to be secured by future economic growth, which will be financed by the remaining 60 percent of the funds. At the end of the day, however, there is nothing to guarantee that growth will be boosted by yet another massive injection of resources, a ‘big push’. Be that as it may, it may well be doubted whether the optimism radiated by the CFA report is based on fact. Not only the massive increase in funds but also the allocation modalities suggested by the CFA are problematical. The EU, the World Bank, and other donors propose changing to budget and programme funding because, as they say, it is more efficient and obliges governments to take a hand. However, budget aid creates new dependencies, stultifies initiatives, and shifts the focus of foreign aid once again towards government intervention. The strategy proposed suggests that African societies are less complex than they really are and disregards their fundamental structural weaknesses. There are no contractual agreements on good governance and political conditions; instead, everything is based on mutual respect and solidarity. To put it in nutshell: Reform proposals are not evaluated by the donors but agreed between the donors and the NEPAD. The African strategy of the G8 is upheld by three pillars: security and peace, domestic reforms, and economic development. Everything depends on the success or failure of the AU and its economic programme, the NEPAD. Cooperation with these institutions is one of the key objectives of the strategy adopted at Gleneagles. Based on the experience of previous years, the promoters of the NEPAD created the Peace and Security Council (PSC) in 2002 to solve intra-African conflicts. Although the PSC reports to the AU General Assembly and its capacities are not nearly adequate for its mission, many member states feel that their own sovereignty is threatened by it. This being so, it is questionable whether the institution will be really effective in preventing, managing, and solving conflicts. Even the NEPAD’s chances are not very good. Launched by the South African Thabo Mbekiunder the name of Millennium African Renaissance Plan, it owes its existence to the visions of African politicians and the designs of international financiers. Consequently, its procedures and decision-making processes are highly complex, and the question of what the NEPAD really is remains to be answered. One of the NEPAD’s core elements is the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), a review process based on questionnaires. However, the APRM is open to many states, including some with considerable deficits. Thus, grave defects were discovered in elections recently held in a number of countries that are regarded as major supporters of the APRM. There view itself is likely to take years, and it is questionable whether its results will be objective. The APRM’s problems are evident, and it is not certain whether the G8 countries will allow themselves to be influenced by its results. At the moment, there are 130 organisations in Africa that serve to promote cooperation among governments as well as supra regional integration. Often badly equipped, they are carbon copies of non-African organisations. Even the work of the seven regional organisations recognized by the AU as ‘pillars’ shows many deficits. At the same time, neither the AU nor the NEPAD have any option of influencing matters so as to enhance the efficiency of these organizations. With regard to the implementation of projects, the NEPAD depends on regional economic communities (RECs). However, none of the projects proposed has been realized so far, a fact that casts some doubt on the functionality of the RECs and illustrates the difficulties encountered by the region in arriving at a joint course of action. In addition, the initiative to establish the NEPAD proves the importance of both South Africa and Nigeria. The NEPAD is of particular significance for South Africa, which became the tutelary power in the region after the fall of the apartheid regime. However, Nigeria is prominent as well, and its president, Mr Obasanjo, was not content to leave the initiative for reform to South Africa alone. Lastly, there is the question of what the interests of the industrialized nations were in supporting the Gleneagles decision to pursue the structural changes in international development cooperation initiated by the MDG, and to replace the old, discredited form of cooperation by a new, visionary concept. Enhancing the multilateral nature of cooperation with sub-Saharan Africa is mainly supported by the US, the UK, and France. After the end of the East-West conflict, the US were particularly anxious to resolve conflicts and maintain stability in the region. Of course, it was motivated in part by its own interests, particularly with regard to the extraction of oil and mineral resources. While France was motivated by its growing rivalry with the US in addition to its own traditionalties to the region, the UK was concerned about maintaining its reputation and influence within the Commonwealth. The interests of the remaining G8 states, such as Germany and Italy, are limited. The African strategy developed by the EU after the Gleneagles summit is largely congruent with that of the G8 states. Even so, the Europeans set some high-lights of their own, such as the European Security Doctrine adopted late in 2003, which addresses the threat presented to Europe by diseases, violent conflicts, migration, and problems related to the supply of energy and/or raw materials that are rooted in Africa. The EU advocates comprehensive partnership between the African and European continents as well as improved coordination among the European donors to enhance the efficiency of their cooperation. Another objective is to reformulate the rules governing trade relations, as the current system of unilateral trade preferences contravenes the regulations of the WTO. It appears unlikely that the objectives set for 2006 will actually be reached because current growth rates fall markedly short of the targets set at Kananaskis. New financing instruments, such as a tax on air tickets or a prefunded international finance facility (IFF), appear hardly promising. The international capital transfer or Tobin tax is the only alternative with a modest chance of success. The only approach that is likely to effect a genuine increase in international development aid is to stock up national development-aid budgets – a move that is hardly likely to meet with the approval of countries like Germany or France. Despite all problems and disagreements about the right course to take, the EU cannot evade the challenges posed by Africa. Mutual relations are too deeply rooted in geographical proximity as well as in history. There is no doubt that Africa needs external aid more than ever before in view of its many ailments. What is more, there are not only many countries where opportunities for democratic reforms have been missed, but also many others where progress has actually been made. For this reason, individualized programmes defined on a case-by-case basis are more effective than general initiatives at a higher level. Europeans would be well advised to continue their partnership and decentralization strategy carefully, emphatically, and as unbureaucratically as possible at the micro-level without losing sight of developments at the macro-level.

Energy-policy Perspectives in the Czech and Slovak Republics

In the Czech Republic, it is the Ministry for Industry and Commerce which is responsible for energy policy. According to the Ministry, the country’s power stations – driven by coal, water, wind, nuclear power, and other energy sources – generated a total of more than 83,000GWh in 2003. As the country’s energy needs grew more slowly in the two preceding decades than the generation potential of the energy industry, energy exports could be stepped up.There are three groups of companies supplying the country’s energy market – the ČEZ Group, which comprises five utilities and leads the central European as well as the Czech market; Jihočeská energetika a.s. and Jihomoravská energetika a.s., two companies which form part of E.ON Česká republica a.s. and, therefore, of the Munich E.ON energy group; and Prazská energetika a.s., which supplies Prague, the capital. All industrial energy sources are operated by the ČEZ itself, which owns two nuclear power stations, ten coal-fired power stations, twelve hydroelectric power stations, one wind power station, and a solar-power complex.In the Slovak Republic, energy policy is handled by the Ministry for Economics, which mainly aims to secure a living standard that is comparable to that of the EU member countries. In the period from 1995 to 2003, the Czech GDP expanded by 35.7 percent while energy consumption increased by no more than 6.5 percent, bringing the country a good deal closer towards that goal. In total, the country’s nuclear, fossil, and hydroelectric power stations generated some-what more than 31,000GWh in 2003.Most of the energy in Slovakia is generated by three utilities that sprang from the former state-owned Slovenský energetický podník, namely Slovenské elektrárne a.s., Slovenskâ elektrizačná prenosová sústava a.s., and Tepláren Košice a.s. The country’s energy market, which was comprehensively deregulated by the Dzurinda government in the autumn of 2004, is served by three local distributors, ZSE a.s., SSE a.s., and VSE a.s.At the moment, the infrastructure operated by these enterprises includes 29 hydroelectric power stations, two nuclear power stations, five power stations running on fossil fuels, and a variety of biomes and bigots power stations as well as an array of solar-energy panels measuring well above 50,000 sqm.The future energy policy of the Czech Republic is framed by three pillars – a maximum of independence, security, and reasonable development. Ranking first among the sources of energy are fossil fuels, destined to remain an important pillar in the country’s energy balance until 2030. Ranking next in importance, there is nuclear power, which is to be enhanced further because of the peculiar geographical and geological conditions prevailing in Czechia. The two existing power stations, Dukovany and Temelín, are to be upgraded and modified to conform to international safety standards as a first step. Finally, the Ministry for Industry and Commerce plans to increase the use of renewable energy sources to a considerable extent, with a particular focus on biomass.The Czech Republic is a signatory state of the Kyoto Protocol, which came into force in February. If that Protocol should be reformulated and emission-reduction targets based on per-capita emissions before 2011, the country, one of the ten worst environmental polluters in the world, would be in extremely hot water. After all, the remaining industries which form the backbone of the Czech national economy consume a great deal of energy, which the government aims to reduce.The Temelín project and its defence on the international stage enjoy particular political support, which demonstrates that the Prague government firmly intends to keep the country independent in terms of energy policy. The country’s focus on nuclear energy is an investment in the future, the intention being to safeguard Czechia’s competitiveness on the increasingly hard-fought commodity market.Although several oil and gas pipelines run through the Slovak Republic, placing the country in a strategically favourable position, it has hardly any resources of its own in that respect. Therefore, reducing Slovakia’s dependence on fossil-fuel imports is of outstanding importance. The strategy pursued by the government in this regard is four-fold – using nuclear energy, using domestic sources of primary energy, increasing the use of renewable energy sources, and promoting co-generation.The Bratislava government also considers nuclear power the country’s primary source of energy. Thus, the Dzurinda government decided to complete the last two blocks of the nuclear power station at Mochovce, hoping to strike a profitable deal with Western energy utilities by selling the expected generation surplus. On the other hand, there is as yet no answer to the question of how spent fuel rods are to be disposed of.As ever, Slovakia mainly relies on hydroelectric power among the renewable sources of energy. As the country possesses plentiful water resources in the Tatra range and elsewhere, there is quite some potential for increasing its hydroelectric power output. The government mainly pursues four objectives in this context – to safeguard the supply of safe energy, to lower energy consumption, to safeguard independence in energy generation, and to ensure the sustainable development of the energy industry.In the field of environmental protection, the Bratislava government endeavours to lower the emission of greenhouse gases in conformance with the Kyoto Protocol. Its intention is to guide the consumption of primary energy so that gas and nuclear energy increasingly replace liquid and solid fuels in power generation.Both the Czech and the Slovak Republics suffer from the price of oil and gas on the world market. However, Czechia has a good chance of protecting its economy from this development better than other countries in central Europe, such as Germany.The Bratislava government has been pursuing a policy of comprehensive reform for quite some time, in which energy policy is no more than one component. However, if success were to be achieved in this particular area, the entire policy of reform in the country would be given a valuable boost.

Italy's Foreign and European Policy

It appears that the policy followed by the Italian foreign ministry, the ‘Farnesina’ in Rome, has been characterized by contradictions and unpredictability for along time. The domestic-policy situation, which has been volatile for decades, as well as the Italians’ pervasive anxiety not to be forgotten by the big fellows, may serve to explain a foreign-policy course whose only mainstay may well be support for Europe, for NATO, and for partnership with the USA. Italy suffers from a foreign-policy trauma which originated in August 1943. After the overthrow of the Duce, the country, unable to save itself by embracing neutrality, was constrained to go on participating in the war on the British and American side. This inability to follow an independent policy after the defeat was an experience that left a permanent mark on the country’s foreign policy. It was an experience of humiliation for a country that had felt itself at the zenith of its power under Mussolini but was constrained to side with the Western allies afterwards. Mr de Gasperi, who directed Italy’s foreign policy from 1944 to 1946, felt that the Americans and the British saw Italy not as an ally but as a vanquished nation. The path towards Europe offered an escape from this difficult situation. Italy became a founding member of the Council of Europe, the European Coal and Steel Community, the WEU, and the EEC, joining in every major step towards European integration from then on. While a Catholic model of solidarity in European unification dominated under Mr de Gasperi for a long time, the name of Carlo Sforza stands for avision of a secular Europe of nations, a vision apparently shared by the current government and its foreign secretary, Mr Fini. However, Italy’s foreign policy suffered from the country’s latent domestic instability. As the communist party grew in strength, the Western bloc increasingly saw the country as an unpredictable partner. What is more, the Americans felt irritated by President Gronchi’s capricious political escapades, and the social unrest that swept Italy in the late sixties weakened its policy and nourished the suspicions of its allies. While foreign-policy pressure on Italy slackened somewhat when the Vietnam War ended and Charles de Gaulle stepped down, domestic instability in the country was exacerbated when social upheavals persisted and eight governments followed one another in swift succession between 1975 and 1979. To be sure, the Democrazia Cristiana (DC) kept a firm hold on the reins of power, but the need to maintain social peace forced it to make concessions to the opposition, which blurred the contours even of the foreign policy of the country. As it appeared at the time, the ‘Farnesina’ was a place of permanent or temporary retirement for great domestic politicians, but it did not symbolize a coherent, long-term foreign policy directed by a powerful personality. Nor did the country appear to be able to find its own foreign-policy line during the oil crisis. On the one hand, it could not muster the strength to free itself from the embrace of the US, while on the other, it wooed states like Algeria, Libya, and the USSR to ensure its own independent oil supply.A hiatus came in 1989 when the framework conditions of Italy’s foreign policy changed from the ground up, initiating its gravest crisis so far. The DC disintegrated, the political system of the country fragmented, and Italy disappeared from the international stage for years after 1992. Mr Prodi as well as the left-wing cabinets that followed his government prescribed a programme of rigid austerity to lead the country out of its dilemma and enable it at least to comply with the Maastricht criteria, so that it would be one of the first countries to introduce the Euro. The centre-right government headed by Silvio Berlusconi was eyed with suspicion abroad ever since its inauguration in 2001. To avoid making enemies inside or outside the country, the head of government formulated his goals in foreign and European policy in rather vague terms, handing over the foreign office to Renato Ruggiero, a widely respected personage. However, Ruggiero’s withdrawal in 2002 forced Mr Berlusconi to take over the office himself. The current foreign secretary, Mr Fini, did earn some respect for himself, although there is still no coherence in the country’s foreign policy under his leadership. Cases in point include the Italian campaign against a seat for Germany on the UN Security Council and the half-hearted involvement of the country in the Iraq war. Even Mr Berlusconi helps to create a bad impression by trying to present himself as open towards the Atlantic Alliance, Russia, and Europe, all at the same time. Italy’s image also suffered from the dispute between the head of government and Mr Prodi, the President of the EU Commission, as well as from the country’s relative lack of success during its presidency of the EU Council. To make matters worse, a member of the European Parliament was insulted by the head of the Italian government, diplomatic relations with Germany suffered when Mr Berlusconi verbally attacked German tourists in Italy, and the intergovernmental conference on the EU constitution treaty was badly prepared to boot. A number of further examples might be quoted. There are indeed questions that remain open, some of them relating to European policy: What exactly is the position of Italy in Europe? Does it share the vision of European integration, or does it merely support the process of unification to avoid becoming isolated? Another question relates to Italy’s faithfulness as an ally. Is the country firmly standing side by side with the USA? After all, Mr Berlusconi was walking a political tight rope even before the war in Iraq entered its active phase: While backing up Mr Bush and Mr Blair on the one hand, he acted at the same time to keep Italy’s good relations with the Arab states from deteriorating. Another question that must be asked is about Italy’s position within the region. Does the country have a stringent Mediterranean policy, or does it only show interest in its southern neighbours when it is interested? And what is its attitude towards the Middle East crisis? In this regard, Italy has always been vacillating between traditional, leftist-Catholic sympathy with the Palestinians, good relations with the Arabs, and near-unpredictable relations with the Israelis. It is indeed remarkable that the foreign office should now be headed by Mr Fini, the chairman of the post-fascist AN party that is particularly critical towards Israel. Thus, the crucial question is this: What is Italy’s position in foreign policy? It is anything but easy to find an answer. At times, it appears as if the policy of the ‘Farnesina’ in Rome was guided by reflexes. What is more important than anything else is this: Italy must not be forgotten, for it is the country’s presence that counts.

Russia's Back Yard: The Personality Cult and the Gas Poker Game in Turkmenistan

The recent dispute over gas between Russia and the Ukraine as well as Turkmenistan’s resignation from the Commonwealth of Independent States showed that the CIS is beginning to disintegrate. The desert state of Turkmenistan, whose president had criticised the organs of the Commonwealth on several previous occasions, now wishes to be nothing more than an associate member of the federation. Moscow’s response was pragmatic: The Kremlin is anxious to replace the CIS with a network of new political and economic relations in which it intends to play the leading role.Turkmenistan occupies a special position among the former Soviet republics in Asia. While president Saparmurat Niyasov intends to reduce Russia’s influence in his country, he is aware of his dependence on Russia’s infrastructure in his efforts to commercializethe enormous reserves of natural gas in his country.Governed according to strict authoritarian principles, Turkmenistan is a country whose society is firmly controlled by Mr Niyasov, who unites virtually all political offices of importance in his person. The Democratic Party of Turkmenistan, the country’s only party which evolved from the Turkmenian branch of the former CPSU, never encounters anycompetition in elections, and is ruled by Mr Niyasov in the best Stalinist manner.The president himself is a child of the Soviet Union. An orphan who was brought up by relatives, he joined the communist party in 1962 and went to Leningrad to study. From 1976, he headed the Turkmenian section of the CPSU, and the Council of Ministers of the Turkmenian Socialist Soviet Republic from 1985. Mr Niyasov, to whom liberal socialism isan alien idea, merely changed the name of the party after 1991, leaving its structure intact. Communist ideology was replaced by nationalist propaganda, and the government of the state became a blend of Stalinist dictatorship and oriental despotism. From now on, the head of state, Mr Niyasov, allowed himself to be revered as Turkmenbashi, the leader of the Turkoman people.And indeed, the bizarre personality cult surrounding the president is ubiquitous in the desert country. Halk, Vatan, Turkmenbashi (One nation, one country, one Turkoman leader) – this slogan is familiar to all in the country whose capital, Ashgabat, named allits most important institutions after the ,great Saparmurat Turkmenbashi‘. However, as Mr Niyasov believes himself to be a philosopher and teacher as well, he inflicted the maxims of his life on the Turkoman nation under the title of Ruhnama – the incoherentproduct of a confused mind which, however, claims to lead its readers towards physical, mental, and moral health and is placed side by side with the holy scriptures of all religions in the country itself. Replete with historical falsehoods, the book aims, among other things, to create a national Turkoman identity, celebrating the nation as the navel of the world, as a race superior to all other nations – this, at least, is the message of the book, which shows unmistakable traces of a blood-and-soil ideology.Received with condescension in the west at first, the Ruhnama is now beginning to show its fatal impact. Education in Turkmenistan is in ruins; the Russian language has disappeared from the textbooks, and good teaching material in Turkoman cannot befound. The teachings of humanism have been superseded by the Ruhnama, and ideological indoctrination now replaces education in Turkmenistan.Free and independent media are banished from the realm of the Turkmenbashi, whose control of the information flow is almost perfect. As cable television has been discontinued, Turkmenians without a satellite dish can only choose between suffering the hype surrounding the president or leaving their TV set off. As Avdy Kuliyev, a former minister, put it: ‘Properly speaking, Turkmenistan today is no longer a state; it is Niyasov’s private life.’Refusing to permit any criticism of his rule, the president argues instead that his nation is not mature enough for democracy. In reality, however, fundamental rights are trodden underfoot, and ethnic minorities are discriminated against. Officially, the constitutiongrants religious freedom to all Turkmenians, 90 percent of which profess the Sunni version of Islam. On the other hand, the law on the freedom of conscience and religious organisations adopted in 1997 subjects the members of religious communities to rigid controls and drastically restricts them in the practice of their religion.An attack on his person in November 2002, unsuccessful, amateurishly executed, and never entirely cleared up so far, was used by the president as a pretext for launching a relentless persecution campaign. The show trials staged by the regime and the publication of confessions obviously extracted from the alleged assassins by torture were reminiscent of similar show trials staged by Stalin and did nothing to improve the situation of the Turkmenian opposition.Turkmenistan’s natural-gas deposits are the fourth largest in the world. Nevertheless, having no pipelines of its own, the country finds itself constrained to use the Russian system and sell its oil to the Russian Gazprom group and other customers at prices far below those of the world market. It is said that Mr Niyasov personally profited most from the business deals struck with Russia. The country’s revenues cannot be found, and it is supposed that they are stashed away in the president’s private accounts abroad. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, Turkmenistan has been striving for greater independence from Russia. Consequently, most of its agreements on traffic and gas-transport projects were concluded with Iran, the only alternative to Russia at the moment: A joint Turkmenian-Iranian pipeline has been in operation since 1997. A contract with Russia was concluded in 2003 in which Turkmenistan undertook to export ist gas to the neighbouring country for 25 years. At first, the deal was celebrated as a victory in Moscow. However, when Mr Niyasov increased the sales price the next year, a new agreement was needed which occasioned no joy in the Kremlin because it contained Mr Niyasov’s renunciation of the treaty on dual citizenship.Despite his successes, Mr Niyasov endeavours to circumvent Russia in the infrastructure issue. While plans to build a pipeline through Afghanistan only exist on paper so far, a meeting of Turkmenian, Afghan, and Pakistani politicians recently cast the plans for a trans-Afghan pipeline into more concrete shape; construction is scheduled to begin in the near future.Turkmenistan certainly seeks to cooperate with other states in the economic field, but isolation is the order of the day in the political arena. Thus, Mr Niyasov announced his intention to maintain ‘perpetual neutrality’ in all questions of foreign policy, an attitude that was officially recognized even by the United Nations in 1995.The future of the president himself appears shrouded in mystery. While it is true that Mr Niyasov declared his intention to surrender his office in 2009 in an address before the National Council in 2003, it is hardly likely that the Turkmenbashi will give up power in actual fact. Remarkably, Mr Niyasov is anything but unpopular among the Turkmenian people. One of the reasons for this may be that those aged 20 or 30 today have never known any other president, while another may be the fact that the Ruhnama is meanwhile bearing fruit.On the international stage, Mr Niyasov was not taken seriously for a long time. He was regarded as an eccentric with a bizarre personality cult who appeared comical rather than dangerous. Because of the country’s enormous gas deposits and the mystery surrounding the future of its regime, the global community criticized Mr Niyasov’s dictatorship in terms that were fairly restrained for a long time. Should he die, the question of his succession will probably be settled within the party on the Chinese model, particularlyas no so-called crown princes have appeared in public so far.Because of the general lack of a prominent opposition movement, the moderate influence of Islam, and the subordinate role of the military and the secret service, Turkmenistan appeared and still appears a politically stable country. Yet the desert state is one of the key transit countries for the drug traffic, and respect for fundamental rights is anything but assured. As the European Development Bank recently pointed out, Mr Niyasov had better not hope for mitigating circumstances. Which course the future development of Turkmenistan will take, and whether international pressure on president Niyasov will increase, remains to be seen. The country possesses attractive gas deposits, there is no potential threat from nuclear weapons emanating from it, and its geopolitical position vis-à-vis Iran, Iraq, and Afghanistan is regarded as valuable. Therefore, Turkmenistan still offers fertile ground fora dictatorship to thrive without much interference.

The Christian Element in the Party Landscape of Slovakia

Much of the history of Slovakia has been shaped by Catholic and Protestant intellectuals. Representatives of both denominations were engaged in the Slovakianrenaissance of the 18th century. Catholics helped support the fight against communist rule and assisted in consolidating democracy after Moscow’s puppetregime had collapsed.In the 19th century, the development of the party landscape in the kingdom of Hungary was greatly influenced by three conflicts: About constitutional law, about the economic and social orientation of the country, and about the position of ethnic groups in aMonarchy bent on assimilation or ‘magyarisation’.The establishment of the Slovakian National Party (SNS) in June 1871 was founded on the Memorandum of the Slovak Nation adopted ten years before which demanded, among other things, equal rights for all nations in Hungary. Motivated by the social encyclical Rerum novarum promulgated by Pope Leo XIII in 1891 as well as by the anti-clerical attitude of the Court at the time, the Catholic People’s Party (KN) was founded by Ferdinand Zichy in 1894 to compete with the SNP – the beginnings of a tradition of Christian democracy in the Slovakian party landscape. However, when the KN embraced Hungary’s nationalist policy of assimilation it lost the support of the Slovak Catholic intelligentsia. At the same time, differentiation increased within the SNS, whose national backing was highly heterogeneous in the end of the 19th century. A powerful group surrounding Andrej Hlinka, a cleric, became the talk of the nation, and public criticism of the KN’s chauvinist policies became increasingly sharp. The only unifying element within the SNS was a common desire to strengthen the national consciousness of the Slovaks and to stem the tide of Hungary’s assimilation policy. The foundation of the Slovak People’s Party (SL’S) by Andrej Hlinka in Zilina in 1913 terminated the formation of Christian parties in Slovakia for the time being.After the foundation of Czechoslovakia in 1918, the SL’S became a modern right-wing Catholic-national party which changed its name to Hlinka’s Slovak National Party (HSL’S) in 1925. As the conflict between the church and the state grew more virulent, the party stepped up its demands for autonomy, adopting an anti-communist attitude soon afterwards. In the elections of 1925, the HSL’S was returned as the strongest party at 35 percent of the vote. It joined the government, only to leave it again in 1929. With most of its electoral base in the rural areas, the HSL’S won 63 seats in parliament in 1939. Its chairman, Jozef Tiso, was appointed head of government as well as president. Under his leadership, the party founded a number of organisations such as the Hlinka Guard, which was modelled on the fascist movements in Germany and Italy, and the Hlinka Youth. It was only after the end of Nazism and the Second World War that the Slovakian National Council put a stop to the activities of the party and its organisations.After 1945, it was impossible for a time to found a Catholic party because Czechoslovakia’s first post-war government regarded the Catholic movement as a potential threat to the consolidation of the newly-unified state and an enemy of communism, the latter because of the attitudes adopted by Catholic politicians earlier on. Daunted by the persecution of the church initiated by the regime, many Slovak Catholics abandoned the idea of founding a party with a religious character. Nevertheless, the Catholic movement survived in the form of a catacomb church, ordaining its priests and bishops in secret.Once again, non-communist political groups began to develop when the regime collapsed. Both Czechs and Slovaks formed their ‘public against violence’ movement which was joined by people of highly different political persuasions. In the early 1990s, the Christian Democratic Movement (KDH) was founded which, led by the Catholic dissident Ján Čarnogursý, breathed new life into the Christian and/or Catholic tradition in Slovakia’s party landscape. However, when the nationalist and populist Movement for Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) was formed in 1992 under the leadership of Vladimir Mečiar as a spin-off of the liberal VNP, it became evident that the roots of Catholicism had lost some of their strength in forty years of communist rule. The KDH supported the transition from a command to a market economy in the still-existing Czechoslovakian Federation as well as the reform policies of Václav Klaus, although they were regarded as painful by many. The KDH lost many sympathizers because of this, as well as because of its support for a more powerful role of the individual states within the Federation and the involvement of that process in the European integration of the country.When the Slovakian state became independent in 1993, the conflict between separatists and federalists lost its meaning. At the same time, Mr Mečiar’s increasingly authoritarian style of leadership gave rise to new tensions, as he was ruining the country and robbing it of any chance of integration into the structures of Europe in the near future.In response to Mr Mečiar’s electoral-law bill with which he intended to secure power for his party in permanence, several opposition parties founded the Slovakian Democratic Coalition (SDK) which, composed of highly heterogeneous ideological forces, partly disintegrated in 1998. One of the consequences of its disintegration was the establishment of the Slovakian Christian Union (SDKU) which, unlike the KHD, was conceived as a popular party under the leadership of the prime minister, Mikuláš Dzurinda. Very soon, the party became the moving force of Slovakia’s integration in the West, and the country’s traditional conflict between western and eastern alignment was over.Today, there are three Christian democratic parties in Slovakia, albeit with highly heterogeneous programmes. Still, they all have their own representatives in government, they all are highly personalized, and they all look back on a rich tradition of internal conflict and fragmentation.With a membership of 18,000, the Christian Democratic Movement (KDH) is Slovakia’s largest Christian democratic party. It is founded on the ideas of Christianity and national identity. The Slovakian Christian Democratic Union (SDKU) numbers more than 5,000 members. Without a basis in the traditions of Slovak Christianity, it is anxious to open itself to a more widespread electoral base and/or to amalgamate Christian and liberal ideas. The Hungarian Coalition Party (SMK), an alliance of three Hungarian parties formed on the basis of Mr Mečiar’s electoral-law bill, represents the third Christian force whose foundation was influenced by the Hungarian Christian Democratic Movement (MKDH).Today, Christian democracy is firmly embedded in Slovakia. One of the reasons for this lies in the special historic role played by the Catholic Church in the formation of the Slovakian nation. Another lies in the fact that three of the conflicts which significantly influenced the formation of all political parties are resolved today – the conflict between communism and anti-communism, the conflict between separatism and federalism, and the conflict between western and eastern alignment. Especially the Christian parties are now called upon to help overcome the last stills-mouldering conflict, the classic ideological conflict between left and right, the Christian parties being those which today harbour mostly the winners rather than the losers of the transformation process.

The Difficulties of Consolidation. Guatemala's Internal Conflicts Are Stumbling Blocks on the Way to Democracy

When the tropical storm ‘Stan’ devastated Central America and Guatemala in October 2005, people at home and abroad showed great solidarity with the suffering population. Only a few months later, however, precious little remains; Guatemalan society has returned to normality, and you would look in vain for any sign of solidarity and responsibility on the part of the political sphere or the state, to say nothing of the wealthy citizens of the country.In this Central American country with its population of 13 million, the rift between rich and poor gapes wider than anywhere else in the world. Because of this, as well as because of the weakness of the democratic institutions, the disastrous level of public education, and the persistence of the factors that caused the 36-year civil war, crime and corruption form the key evils of Guatemala. With presidential and congressional elections scheduled for 2007, the country is last in line among the democracies of Latin America.56.2 percent of the Guatemalan population live in poverty and 16 percent in extreme poverty. On the human development index of the World Bank, Guatemala ranks 117th on a scale of 177, with only Haiti occupying a lower rank among the American states. 56 percent of the arable land belongs to two percent of the farms, while 48 percent of the farms share three percent of the land among themselves. Most of the land and the means of production belong to a small but extremely powerful upper crust. While staple foods such as maize, beans, and rice are cheap, wage levels in the country are extremely low, and vegetables, milk, and meat are often more expensive than in Europe.Another characteristic of Guatemala is the contrast between the indigenous Maya, who are strongly marginalized although they represent the majority of the population, and the mestizos and/or ladinos of Spanish extraction.With an average of seven to nine years of schooling, the Guatemalan education level is low. The country’s illiteracy rate is the second highest in Latin America, topped only by Haiti. Every year, 35,000 Guatemalans celebrate their 35th birthday without being able to read or write. More than 40 percent of the population are aged 15 and under, and 15 percent of the women aged 15 to 19 have their own children.Democracy is regarded with scepticism by all Guatemalans. After its reintroduction 1986, it failed to meet the people’s expectations. Governmental institutions are weak because the parties and persons that back them up are weak. Apart from the Democracia Cristiana Guatemalteca, which was founded fifty years ago and is now led by Vinicio Cerezo Arévalo, political parties lack continuity, programmatical substance, and the strength to integrate. Instead, they are often used by politicians as springboards to realize their personal ambitions. Party funding is similarly problematical. To throw some light into the darkness, the Tribunal Supremo Electoral (TSE) was recently instituted as a party-funding watchdog.Headed by Oscar Berger, a member of the entre-preneurial class, Guatemala’s current government has so far given no clear indications of any perspective for a ‘national project’.At the same time, a ray of hope comes from the new electoral and party legislation which endeavours to promote the institutionalization of the political parties and put an end to their vacillations. Demonstrating a minimum membership is the most difficult hurdle which the parties will have to jump before March 2006. According to the press, the only parties that now appear able to do so are the Democracia Cristiana, the FRG, the PAN, the PSN, and the DIA. To secure their roots among the population, the parties must rely on civic commitment which, however, is hardly likely to prosper if the current practice of parties being bought outright by large donors should continue.One step forward on the way towards democratic consolidation was taken when the strength of the armed forces was reduced from around 50,000 to 15,000 troops, as provided in the peace treaty of 1996. On the other hand, the Guatemalan armed forces, weighed down as they are by the burden inherited from the bloody civil war, in which at least 100,000 people died and a million were driven from their homes, yet have to find and endorse their role in a democracy. While it is certain now that the military is no longer above the law, as it used to be, neither the government nor the political parties nor civil society itself have so far succeeded in reformulating its mission in a positive way. Under Oscar Berger, some modest progress has also been achieved in the field of journalism. Whereas the press was characterized as ,unfree‘ by Freedom House before 2005, it is today rated as ,partially free‘. Even so, violence and intimidation are commonly used against obnoxious journalists, who are also seriously threatened by paramilitary groups, drug dealers, and corrupt policemen. Another cause for concern is the fact that most print media are owned by a handful of rich financiers, so that genuine freedom of opinion appears largely out of the question.The judiciary also benefits from certain improvements. The Berger government is anxious to strengthen the country’s institutions and suppress corruption sustainably. One case in point is the ongoing process for the extradition of Mr Portillo, Guatemala’s former president who now lives in Mexico, and who is charged with embezzlement of public funds. Reports about regress come from the front against drug trafficking and violent crime. Public security deteriorated massively under Mr Berger and the incidence of violent crime soared, leading to an atmosphere of constant danger and general suspicion.Car thefts, drug smuggling, and bus raids are common, and everyday life in the Central American country is marked by kidnapping, rape, torture, and murder. The maras, youth gangs which by now constitute the main threat against the population of numerous cities in various Central American countries, deserve special mention in this context. In Guatemala City, for instance, two hostile factions, the Mara salvatrucha and the Mara 18, terrorize the quarters of the city. A disgusting ritual observed by many maras are initiation rites which require the murder of an innocent person by a novice wishing to be adopted by the gang. Rituals of this kind as well as the structure of the gangs themselves probably result from migration, alcoholism, and the misery of the civil war. Uprooted young people adopt these gangs as ersatz families, many of which are supposed to be backed up by string-pullers from organized crime and the drug mafia.Guatemala’s problems are both complex and grave, and it is even possible that power may be taken over by populists of the Hugo Chávez ilk unless speedy steps are taken to build stable and efficient public institutions with a clear political vision. At all events, the soil appears ready to receive the populist seed, particularly as the fundamental needs of the population were not satisfied even after the end of the civil war.Against this background, the problems which international cooperation must solve appear clearly outlined. The point is to strengthen those institutions that show a recognizable trend towards democracy. Another point is to promote an educational policy, based on the principle of universal equality, which aims to integrate the indigenous majority of the population. For the conflicts of the past can be overcome only if justice is established in society.

Transformation Processes in the Arab World – the Case of Egypt

Demokratiedefizite und Reformimpulse

The states of Middle East and North Africa (‘MENA states’) are still struggling for the recognition already accorded to the sub-Saharan states in transformation research. One of the reasons for this is Samuel Huntington’s Clash of Civilisations in which he categorically proposes that Islam is incompatible with democracy.The attacks of September 11, 2001 unexpectedly put the spotlight on Huntington’s theory, focusing the interest of the global public on the Islamic world and giving rise to the question whether Islamic societies could be democratized at all. Perennial marginalization of the MENA region in global politics has its own price that is now being paid by the population of war- and terror-ravaged Iraq.Today, there are many who regard the theory that Islamic states are incapable of implementing democracy as disproven. In their opinion, there is reason to hope that democracy might take root in Islamic countries, as it did in certain Catholic states, such as Italy, Spain, and Portugal which, believed to be largely impervious to democracy as late as the 19th century, are now rightly regarded as shining examples of a successful transition to just that form of government.Transition research distinguishes four ideal types of political transition: Those that are initiated by the ruling authoritarian system, by a pact between the forces of reform and moderate opposition forces, by an overthrow of the regime, or by re-establishing the state.In the Arab Republic of Egypt, signs have been indicating for some time that its head of state, Hosni Mubarak, is prepared to adopt reforms. If these should be successful, the country’s transition to democracy might make it a role model for the entire region. In this context, it is interesting to take a look at Egypt’s legal framework conditions. It would make sense to base such a review on seven criteria, namely elected representatives, free elections, the universal right to vote and stand for election, and the freedom of opinion, information, and association. The transition researcher Robert A. Dahl developed this catalogue as the smallest common denominator describing the institutional guarantees that permit designating a system under investigation as ‘democratic’.‘Elected representatives’: The Egyptian constitution empowers the president of the Republic to appoint and dismiss the head of the Council of Ministers and his deputies as well as the cabinet ministers and their deputies. Instead of being elected by Parliament, therefore, the government is appointed by the president of the state. ‘Free elections’: Members of the National Assembly are elected by direct, secret, and universal ballot in elections that take place regularly. However, the text of the constitution itself makes no mention of the word ‘free’, and indeed, there is no way of ensuring that elections cannot be rigged. ‘Universal right to vote’: All men and women aged 18 and over are entitled to vote. ‘Universal right to stand for election’: Egypt’s Parliament is elected by direct, secret, and universal ballot, and all citizens are entitled to stand for election. ‘Freedom of opinion’: Freedom of opinion is guaranteed in the constitution, and self-criticism is even believed to benefit the security of the fatherland. While censorship and sanctions against journalists and the media are admissible only in a state of emergency, this self-same state of emergency has been prevailing in Egypt ever since 1981, obliterating the freedom of opinion and the freedom of the press.‘Freedom of information’: Although this is guaranteed in the constitution, observations indicate that free access to information is being restricted increasingly. ‘Freedom of association’: The citizens of the country are generally permitted to form associations unless their activities run contrary to the societal order, are conducted in secret, or are military in character. A glance at the legal and factual situation of the political parties in Egypt shows that, on the bottom line, true freedom of association is nothing but a theory.Before the law was changed in 2005, political parties had to conform to some harsh requirements: recognising the Sharia as a source of legislation, respecting the revolutionary principles of 1952 and1971, and recognizing the principle of national unity, social peace, and a socialist system.While the law of 2005 permits party programmes to oppose these criteria, they have to be distinct from the programmes of other parties. Decisions about the admission of political parties are made by the party committee, a body composed of the chairman of the Shura council, the speaker of the House, and a number of former presiding judges appointed by the president. The same body is responsible for monitoring the activities of the registered parties, so that any internal wrangling about the composition of the executive may lead to the temporary cancellation of all the activities of the party concerned. This is certainly not useful for the process of democratization in Egypt.Established only recently, the party tribunal is the last instance to which parties whose application for admission has been rejected by the administrative court may appeal. However, there is no appeal from any decision taken by the party tribunal, whose dependence on the executive power constitutes, according to some jurists, an infringement of the principles of power separation and judicial independence. Both the party committee and the party tribunal are ‘quasi-governmental institutions’, the consequence being that it is the executive power which decides what parties are to be admitted.The Arab Republic of Egypt is headed by its president, Mr Mubarak. Together with the council of ministers, he determines the policies of the state, and it is he who appoints and dismisses the prime minister, the members of the council of ministers, and the under-secretaries of state. He is empowered to proclaim a state of emergency and transfer proceedings from civilian to military courts. In other words: The government of the state lies in the hands of its president. According to the constitution, legislative authority rests with the National Assembly, the government, and the president. As a general rule, however, any laws proposed by the president will be passed by Parliament without debate. Furthermore, Parliament may be dissolved by presidential referendum – yet another indicator of its weakness.Next to a constitutional and an administrative jurisdiction, Egypt has a council of state, an independent judiciary under the Minister of Justice, and military and/or special tribunals. The latter category includes the value tribunal and the state-security courts. There is no appeal whatsoever from the rulings of the value tribunal. Together with the president’s right to transfer civilian proceedings to military courts, this places civilians in a sphere that is outside the law, a grave infringement of civil liberties in Egypt.As this analysis shows, Egypt conforms only in a limited way to the criteria specified by Robert A. Dahl. While both the election of representatives and the right to stand for election are assured, free elections, the right to vote, and freedom of information are out of the question. Similarly, both the freedom of association and the liberty of the political parties give rise to some concern. Lastly, there is a regrettable lack of respect for the freedom of opinion, the independence of the judiciary, and the separation of powers.Egypt stands in need of a new democratic constitution, which should pay attention to the modalities laid down in the electoral laws. The process by which parties are admitted needs to be revised, for additional parties, though small, might offer alternative political concepts to the voters. Furthermore, independent legitimation should be stipulated for both Parliament and the government.Finally, relations between the state and religion need to be redefined in a manner which reflects the profound religiousness of the Arab population. While some believe that it would be appropriate to separate state and religion categorically, this would require a lengthy process of societal transformation which, as past experience in Catholic societies suggests, cannot be compelled.The Egyptian opposition has been calling for reforms for years. However, it lacks the power to push through its demands. It would be important to create conditions under which a gradual transition to democracy would appear the most reasonable solution to the regime itself. International pressure might contribute towards creating just such conditions in Egypt.The overthrow of Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq is not the only event which teaches us that ad-hoc democratization in the MENA region is out of the question. This goal could be approached, if at all, only with patience, sensitivity, and long-term commitment. As the Egyptian example shows, this task is of such diversity and complexity that it should not be undertaken lightly.

Book Reviews

Since the East-West conflict ended in the failure of communism, the debate on development policy has undergone a paradigm change. No longer does the scope of development aid depend on a country’s ideological proximity to one of two hostile blocks confronting each other across the world; instead, decisions are now increasingly informed by a potential beneficiary’s political performance with regard to the quality of its democratic, constitutional, and market-economy order. Because of this paradigm change, and because of the threats to the global order arising from international terrorism and other sources, technical literature at the start of the 21st century is increasingly addressing itself to the triumph of liberal democracy, described so impressively by Francis Fukuyama in the early ’90s as a system capable of responding sustainably to any global challenge. Knowledgeable observers and commentators all, the three authors whose books will be presented in this article describe this new global order which revolves around the creation of democratic structures that span the world. Bill Emmott, the British editor-in-chief of the Economist, outlines the beginnings of this new global order in his book 20:21 Vision, an order that is currently dominated by the USA as the sole remaining superpower together with its economic system of global capitalism. Analyzing lines of economic and political development that reach from the 20th well into the 21st century, he demonstrates future opportunities and risks in the interplay between the global powers. In addition, Mr Emmott devotes some time to considering the probable roles of three other players in global politics – China, Japan, and the EU. Placing each in relation to the US as a global power, he shows clearly that potential dangers exist throughout the first half of the 21st century, particularly in southeast Asia, due to the presence of ambitious China and vulnerable Japan. The EU, so Mr Emmott believes, will not be a powerful independent player in foreign politics on the global plane because that voluntary union of 25 or more states, though enviable, will remain all-too fragmented even in the 21st century. Nevertheless, an increasingly close-knit Europe will be able to hold its own as a guardian of stability and prosperity, particularly as democracy and capitalism develop in the states of central and eastern Europe. In his book, Mr Emmott devotes adequate space to an appreciation of the role played by capitalism in the form of a free-market economy in overcoming totalitarian and illiberal societal orders. In his opinion, capitalism clearly won the ,contest of ideas‘ with Marxism and its derivative philosophies after the end of the Second World War. In doing away with myths and legends about the alleged liberation of the masses from the yoke of capitalism in Russia, China, and elsewhere during the 20th century, Mr Emmott does not mince his words. The upheavals in these countries did not result in freedom for the people, nor in their participation in the means of production; rather, they brought fresh suffering, the death of millions by murder, and corrupt systems headed by men whose contempt for humanity had no equal in the 20th century. At the end of his discourse, Mr Emmott proposes an attitude of ‘sceptical optimism’. In his view, the USA will go on being the leading global power in the 21st century, defending peace, democracy, free markets, and the rule of law throughout the world to serve its own interests. To be sure, differences and disputes with allies and partners are bound to crop up occasionally, causing incomprehension and irritation on both sides. Ultimately, however, there will be no alternative to this US-dominated global order within the foreseeable future. According to Mr Emmott, the same holds true for capitalism. A look at history suggests that the pendulum has always been swinging back and forth, and will go on doing so. The strong points of capitalism, flexibility and adaptability, are confronted by two other characteristics, greed and pitilessness, which lead to popular resentment. However, Mr Emmott believes that there is reason enough for optimism about the future perspectives of America’s leadership and of capitalism. All over the world, the decline of communism led to an unheard-of triumph of democracy, not least because America is so convinced of its mission and inflexible in its belief in the defining power of the free market, both clearly expressed in the Bush doctrine following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The same approach is used by Natan Sharansky in his book The Case for Democracy. A convicted dissident, Mr Sharansky was himself caught up in the pitiless machinery of an authoritarian regime in the Soviet Union of the ’80s, whose decline he witnessed later on. After pressure exerted by the Reagan administration had secured his release from a Gulag camp after nine years of imprisonment, he emigrated to Israel, where he served as cabinet minister in different capacities under various governments, including minister of trade, deputy prime minister and, under Ehud Barak, minister of the interior. In his book, Mr Sharansky discusses the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in detail, praising vociferously the, moral clarity‘ with which Ronald Reagan confronted illiberal and totalitarian systems at the time. In Mr Sharansky’s opinion, it was this attitude which ultimately led to the collapse of communism, and it is the same attitude that will force those regimes that encourage international terrorism to their knees today. In Mr Sharansky’s view, this principle must be pursued consistently even though less severe infringements of constitutional standards in democratic societies might have to be approved tacitly, such as those that happened in the US or Israel. Mr Sharansky believes that democracy curbs the violent urges of both individuals and regimes, and that consequently the export of democracy by any means to hand should be a key element in any national security agenda. In Mr Sharansky’s world, faltering political resolve is not least among the elements that hamper the further triumph of democracy. ‘Pacifists’ and ‘realists’ are working hand in hand with tyrants. They prefer making peace with despots over entering into an open conflict with them. Having read the two books by Mr Emmott and Mr Sharansky, both insistently pleading for the global implementation of democracy, the monograph The Future of Freedom published by the editor-in-chief of Newsweek International, Fareed Zakaria, reads like an antithesis. Mr Zakaria’s provocative theory is that life, freedom, and the pursuit of happiness are hampered by the increasing application of democratic principles in the private as well as in the public sector. Contrary to conventional wisdom, democratization is not a panacea; rather, we are suffering from an overabundance of democracy. One of the results of this development is the growing number of illiberal democracies. However, Mr Zakaria does not wish to see his book interpreted as an argument against democracy but as an appeal to take time out for a look at its ‘dark side’. The author uses historical arguments against the speedy democratization of developing countries by the West, pointing out that constitutionalism and capitalism took a long time to evolve in Europe and North America. Any society that cannot build on living structures such as these runs the risk of degenerating into an illiberal regime. Unlike Mr Sharansky, Mr Zakaria is convinced that certain economic conditions must be created in any country before the implementation of democracy as a sustainable societal model may begin. To support his argument, he quotes social scientists Seymour Martin Lipset, Adam Przeworski, and Fernando Limongi, whose research led them to the conclusion that the higher the per-capita income is in any country, the longer its system of government is likely to endure. The sociologists’ findings suggest that democratic systems are more likely to evolve in countries with a per-capita income of more than US$ 3,000, and that they become almost impossible to destabilize if the per-capita income exceeds US$ 6,000. In this context, Mr Zakaria is more concerned with embedding democracy durably and permanently and less with implementing short-lived democratic structures. In his opinion, the key lies in guaranteeing and securing stable prosperity, the prerequisite that provides the soil in which the tender seedling of democracy can grow and thrive. What is interesting is what Mr Zakaria has to say about the ‘special case of Islam’, particularly in the Middle East. The author recommends the West not to be too persistent in its demands for implementing democratic standards in the region. Rather, its strategy should be to begin by gradually liberalizing the Arab world, throwing open its economy and democratizing it only afterwards. This calls for profound economic and institutional reforms. As political framework conditions for the development of a market economy and a capitalist environment are created, a middle class of citizens and entrepreneurs will form which will ultimately generate the pressure that will produce further political reforms and put the country on the way towards sustainable democratic structures.

Democracy, Democratisation, and Economic Development

Not everyone is convinced of the socio-economic potential of democratic rule; far from it. There are even those who believe that autocratic governments maybe more successful in demolishing barriers to development. The opposite is true, in fact: Democratic rule draws a dividend in the form of development. Its economic advantages are obvious, although it entails enormous challenges, and the ultimate success of democratisation processes is by no means a foregone conclusion. The influence of political and institutional frame-work conditions on the socio-economic development of a society is crucial. Institutions reduce uncertainties. Contractual and legal certainty as well as political stability will boost the economic development of any society. Democratic rule not only promotes the development of a country’s national economy, it also invigorates other factors of development such as, for instance, the quality of public health. The reason lies in the competitive character that is essential to democracy. After all, the mechanisms of democracy aim to regulate the state monopoly on governance in conformance with the rules of competition – an objective that is served by free and fair elections as much as by the freedom of association and the press or the competition among political parties. Autocracies, on the other hand, are not exposed to competition. Instead, they formulate their own economic-policy rules to serve their own interests and generate economic privileges. The lack of any corrective impulse from competing policies that might express the economic interests of the citizens impedes– needless to say – the development of the economy as a whole. There is no dispute that the rule of law as well as democratic structures are capable of promoting socio-economic developments in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. However, consolidating democratic rule is fraught with challenges, and there are many young democracies that show considerable functional defects. Most outstanding among them are those that are illegitimate and characterised by intransparency, corruption, and a total lack of constitutional governance, leaving little room for the development dividend of democratic rule. But if a constitutional democracy is indeed so much more oriented towards the common good than any autocratic rule, and if its economic advantages are indeed as marked as they appear, why is it that the path from autocracy to democracy is so stony? Why are there so many challenges involved in the process of democratisation? Building a democracy calls for coordinating all players in the reform process. What is more, those players should be willing to create new rules for their game. At the same time, the disruptiveness of the coordination issue is enhanced by the problems of distribution that are inherent in any process of democratisation. After all, the groups that are disadvantaged by an autocratic regime will naturally endeavour to secure for themselves a share in there distribution of the economy, while the profiteers of autocracy will just as naturally fight to retain their privileges. If democratisation should be accompanied by decentralisation, similar distribution problems would occur between the central and the subordinate levels of government. Thus, the problem that arises when a pluralist system of interest management is introduced is related to collective action. There is a distinct danger of the players in the game pursuing short-term, particularist objectives instead of agreeing collectively on a set of rules. The consequence would be corruption, legal uncertainty, and intransparency, so that the development dividend of democratisation would fail to materialize. The misdirected developments described above are often most clearly reflected in the functional incapability of the political parties. Normally, it is their duty to represent the particular interests of a specific group, and to cast the interests of a large segment of society in the form of political programmes at the same time. This is exactly where problems arise whenever distribution conflicts increase in intensity. Needless to say, not all processes of transformation end in a defective democracy. Thus, for example, Uruguay, Chile, Botswana, Mauritius, and Taiwan symbolize the successful implementation of democratization processes and their related socio-economic benefits. There are three factors that should be named in this context. First, the intensity of the distribution conflicts that accompany any such transformation depends on the intensity of exploitation and favouritism under the late autocratic regime. Second, the success of any transition process depends on how many ,building sites‘ of reform operate in parallel. And third, the influence of external factors on the process itself should not be underestimated. Such factors include, for example, the inducements offered by the EU, the prospect of EU membership, and the benefits of international development cooperation as such. From all this, it is permissible to conclude that democratic rule promotes socio-economic development, while autocracies, on the other hand, are always confronted by endogenic stability problems, inertia in economic policy, and the reluctance of foreign investors. However, it is precisely the collective benefits of democracy that make related transformation processes so difficult. For the liberties acquired by the citizens in the struggle permit them to articulate their economic rights more extensively which, in turn, leads to disputes over distribution. Coordinating divergent interests becomes a problem, and democracy pays no socio-economic dividend. It would be both meaningful and desirable for the international community to support transition processes. However, any such commitment that is based on relations maintained with still extant authoritarian systems would be harmful; democracy promotion must be credible, meaning that any sanctions should reflect actual political changes but not short-term export-related and/or diplomatic interests. To provide any truly substantial impulses for the transition processes going on in countries that are striving for democracy, the international community would have to enhance the scope of its coordinated efforts far beyond the level shown in the past.

Democracy, Growth and African Development

The African Policy Challenge

Two changes left their mark on Africa in the last few years. First, democracy is now the accepted form of government in most African states. Second, the, Washington consensus‘, an agenda for economy and governance reform, has become the ruling political orthodoxy without, however, producing political elites or generating enthusiasm among the public. Both these shifts merit a closer look. Ways and means of accelerating growth in Africa have been considered for a long time. In that context, the endeavours undertaken in other continents were consulted as well. In the period from 1960 to 2000, the gap between the richest and the poorest fifth of the global population widened from 30:1 to 74:1, with the sub-Saharan states hardest hit by the process. However, much more meaningful information comes from the endemic poverty that is evident in the shantytowns of Luanda or the slums of Nairobi – and it is always the women and children who suffer most. Even so – there is no universal answer to the question of why Africa should be so poor. Mauritius provides a good example of a country that has successfully mastered the transition from a purely agricultural economy to an economy that is underpinned by a manufacturing and a service sector. Botswana, on the other hand, demonstrates how natural resources can be used to advantage. At the same time, it is a fact that the record of most other commodity producers in Africa has been poor so far. In Nigeria, for instance, the number of people living below the poverty line (1 US $ per day) grew from 19 million in 1970 to 90 million in 2000. To find a short and telling answer to the question about the reason for Africa’s poverty, we would have to focus on politics or, in more concrete terms, on the weakness of public institutions that is death for the development of any national economy. In Europe, the path towards industrialization lay through the agricultural revolution of the 17th century. Moreover, those countries that developed quickly were receptive towards pluralism, the freedom of information, and the willingness to take personal risks. The celebrated economic miracle that happened in Asia late in the 20th century was the fruit not only of hard labour and high productivity but also of sound policies that aimed to promote public welfare. In Africa, on the other hand, undemocratic governments are responsible for misguided development policies and infringements of human rights. In point of fact, the history of development assistance in Africa and India proves that money alone is not enough to make a country flourish. The success of any ,growth solution‘ rests on a combination of diverse factors, including appropriate political, economic, and social structures, skills, and leadership qualities. The states of Africa are not poor because other states are rich. Geographically speaking, they are situated on the periphery, cut off from the world’s markets. What is more, they are poor because they are unable to profit from globalization. It is crucial for the development of a country that its leadership should be prepared to grant certain freedoms to the individual, as in Europe, and to intervene strategically in emergencies, as in Asia. Africa must confront the inevitable process of change. What is needed is a fresh political mindset, qualified labour, and a legal and technical infrastructure that is able to absorb new technologies and serve international markets – next to a meritocracy, new ideas, and new information. Ghana may serve as an example. 25 years ago, it was a failed state, although it was free from endemic violence. Today, it may look back on three successful multiparty elections and a peaceful change of government, while in terms of macroeconomic reforms it is now a model country. Located at the ‘geographical centre of the world’, as its president, Mr Kufuor, put it a short while ago, Ghana is the best gateway to the populous market of west Africa. Its rate of inflation hovers around 15 percent at the moment, its currency is stable, and many things have changed on the surface. But will Ghana be able to increase its rate of growth to the east Asian level of eight percent? According to experts, this would require a fundamental break with the country’s present strategy of economic management. During the period in which Ghana rebuilt itself, it was found that a year of recovery is needed to make up for a year of decline. Today, after 22 years, the endeavours of the country’s leadership are paying a dividend. The Blair Commission similarly asked itself how Africa’s growth could be enhanced. Tanzania, currently the recipient of development aid in the amount of one billion US $, demonstrates how difficult it is to break through the six-percent ceiling. Since the old socialist collectivization theory was abandoned, liberal reforms have presented the country with fiscal and monetary stability. What it needs today, however, is reforms that aim at structures rather than macro-economic stability, reforms that might serve to increase productivity, employment, and capital stocks. The most important target for such reforms would be Tanzania’s agriculture, which accounts for half of the country’s gross domestic product, 85 percent of its exports, and two thirds of the jobs on the market. Further causes of concern include the overvaluation of the national currency, the state of the rural infrastructure, and the country’s legislation on land tenure. Until land is seen in Africa as a commodity which can be owned, sold, and efficiently utilized by anyone, the series of food crises will go on without interruption, exacerbated by erratic rainfall patterns to which agricultural technology does not really have an answer. Further problem areas that urgently need resolving include the slow progress of privatization in the utility and infrastructural sectors, administrative and judicial corruption, and the defective range of services provided by the government. It is entirely justifiable to ask questions about the role played by governments, for that role is being challenged by globalization and market deregulation. However, the World Bank found that first, an effective state is vital for economic performance; that second, the role of the state needs to be modified with regard to its fundamental duties; and third, that the capability of the state is not a matter of destiny, and that countries can indeed build up their capacities. At this point, Morocco provides a suitable example. In implementing its policy of reform, Rabat must walk a narrow path between liberalization – to promote a society that is driven by ideas – and the need to contain Islamist forces. The cases of Dubai and Singapore, to name but two examples, show that it is indeed possible to find the right blend of innovation, capital, culture, behaviour, and location. To be sure, the cultural inertia that prevails in Morocco is an obstacle that does hamper attempts to motivate people to think and act independently. Is Morocco, and are other African countries really in a position to say about themselves what Jeffrey Sampler and Saeb Eigner wrote about Dubai, that growth there is not simply a matter of economic indicators, it is part of the culture? Months after the efforts of Tony Blair as well as numerous celebrities and artists, Africa is not receiving any more help, only promises. Yet these efforts perpetuated the impression that Africa might be helped by a ,big push‘. This prescription, however, is anything but promising because it ignores four factors. First, the 54 states on the continent differ widely, and their problems cannot be solved by the same approach. Second, it is unrealistic to assume that the states of Africa will begin to recover as soon as democracy is strengthened. Third, it is wrong to believe that money can solve all problems, or the sums that have already been expended would have transformed Africa into a flourishing continent long ago. And fourth, it is indispensable for the African elites to confront globalization if they want their countries to advance. No paradigm change is necessary for Africa to develop. What is needed is a fresh quality of governance and leadership. As the World Bank put it, the biggest African challenge is the total responsibility of some of its leaders. Many know how to talk-the-talk to foreigners but do things differently at home‘. Allowing the economy free play is another important element. Africa’s future depends less on help than on self-help, less on external than on internal factors. Instead of bewailing their woes, the leaders of the continent should devote their energy to promoting the economy and building the requisite democratic institutions. To be sure, it would be unrealistic to expect immediate success even then, but then again, nobody ever predicted such a thing.

About this series

This periodical responds to questions concerning international issues, foreign policy and development cooperation. It is aimed at access of information about the international work for public and experts.

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The Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung publishes four issues of International Reports per year. Single issues: 10 €. Cheaper subscription rates. There is a special discount for students. For more information and orders, please contact:


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Dr. Gerhard Wahlers



Benjamin Gaul

Benjamin Gaul

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Louisa Heuss

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