Democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.
~Sir Winston Churchill
When George Bush was trying to export democracy to the Middle East before the attacks on Manhattan and the Pentagon, I thought it had to be a mistake, since trying to export a form of government has usually the same results that trying to impose your language to a foreign nation. Karl Marx hypothesed in Das Kapital, that Democracy is archived in an evolutionary fashion, and it is only when a nation is ripe for self government, when Democracy can plants its roots.
Analysing the problem with Democracy in places that it was imposed by foreign policy, we discover that it has not always yield to any results. A lot of countries in Africa are now democratic, but they are dirty poor. In Latin America, the new democracies, with exception of Chile and Brazil, have not achieved the desired economic welfare that it was expected.
Returning to the Dutch Disease problem that I mentioned in a previous post, some countries in the bottom billion are resource rich, democratic nations, and they remain trapped in poverty. These phenomena need to be explained by dissecting Democracy in its two main components: Free elections and internal restrains.
What the USA has being trying to export is a system of free elections. In such model, political parties compete for the electoral favour of the citizens. Every number of years, a political campaign would start, the political parties will compete against each other, and the people will go and vote.
This is a deadly system for some countries. In many of the resource rich countries, the party in power will deplete the national treasury to get re elected. They will have more resources (money, control of radio and TV, utilization of public works as a mean to gain voters) than competition. Politicians are not worry about governing but about getting re-elected. Even in a mature democracy like the United States, the first term is used as a mean to get a second term.
The second element in Democracy is the system of check and balances. This means a real opposition, a working government model, and an active civil society. These elements cannot just be exported, they need to be conceived and develop within the host society. That is the failure of the model of exporting democracy; you can export an effective electoral system, but without the check and balances that Democracy needs, the system will quickly move down to a bunch of corrupt officials buying the population vote.
There is something that the developed world can do to help democracies thrive, we will see this in coming posts.