Determinants of Asian Democratisation (1981-2005)

Azad, Abul Kalam
Crothers, Charles
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Doctor of Philosophy
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Auckland University of Technology

As a culturally distinctive region, Asia was chosen as the sample for this study. This empirical study investigated what the major trends of democratisation were in Asia between 1981 and 2005: why some countries became democratic while other countries failed to follow suit during that period. The main research hypothesis was: “That is it was mainly economic development that drove democratisation in Asia between 1981 and 2005”. Although some studies have studied the impact of economic development on democratisation in Asia, their findings have been inconclusive and focuses sometimes different. [To investigate the research hypothesis, 24 Asian countries were selected…measurement tools used etc…] For this research work, statistical and case study methods were applied. The data used in the analyses were collected from established data sources e.g. Freedom House (Freedom in the World, n.d.) and United Nations Statistics Division (UN Stat, n.d.). Repeated Measures in Linear Mixed Modeling (LMM) were used to analyse the quantitative data. Three case studies supplemented the findings of statistical analyses. Historical information and institutional and legal facts were also used in the case studies. This study found that increases in the level of economic development along with its equitable distribution in society and positive roles of political actors increase the level of democratisation in Asia. Some pro-democratic political and social institutions, such as tradition of parliamentarianism, and international organisations, for example Bretton wood institutions, also led to democratisation. A low extent of national political divide was found to result in a considerably high level of democratisation in a country where confrontation between major political forces is the main feature of politics. This study also found that a partial democracy with Asian values, economic legitimacy, a lack of corruption and a “systematic control” over opposition politicians can survive, and is not prone to higher level of democratisation. The Taiwan case revealed that, amongst other factors, the role of political actors and economic equity along with economic development is also vital for democratisation. The Singapore case explained how a “hybrid regime” in a rich country outsmarts democratisation. The study of Bangladesh provides an idea about other elements, e.g. lower level of political confrontation, that push for higher levels of democratisation.

Democracy democratization , Azad , Asia , Bangladesh , Singapore , Taiwan , Economic development , GDP per capita , World Bank , IMF , Politics , Political party
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