Many countries believe that democracy is the best system of governing compared to dictatorship. Democracy is the system of governing whereby citizens are allowed to vote for candidates for Parliament during elections, as well as to make decisions for the country. This system allows citizens to be involved in matters concerning the nation and to influence the politicians and governors during decision-making process, so only the decisions favorable for them will be made.
Voting, on the other hand, allows citizens to express their opinion and to take part in the decision-making process. This makes citizens be part of the government, and they take part in what happens in the government. It also assists them in understanding what happens around them as well as the responsibilities the government has towards its citizens. Therefore, democracy is an effective and fair system of governing, especially in developing countries since it involves citizens in national matters; therefore, it ensures that the government carries its activities transparently (Diamond, Lipset, & Linz, 1988 pp59).
Many countries in the world chose democracy as the system of government immediately after the end of the Cold War. Many developing countries also use democratic governance since they view it as the desirable system of governance. Many developing countries in Latin America, Africa and Asia achieved their democracy in a bitter manner whereby there were wars between the political parties as they fought for attaining power in order to govern these countries. This caused chaos in the countries, and as a result many people died. However, during the 20th and 21st centuries, many developing countries replaced authoritarian regimes with a form of democratic government where free and fair elections enabling the people`s will to be expressed are allowed.
Democratization of developing countries during the 20th and 21st centuries has various effects. Many developing countries are characterized by their economic underdevelopment, poverty, unequal distribution of capital, low energy consumption, poor infrastructure and political underdevelopment. This is mainly caused by lack of fair and accountable government; therefore, introduction of democratic government with its transparency will ensure a fair government and a further development of the country (Diamond, Lipset, & Linz, 1988 pp52). Among the developing countries that have shown improvement through the process of democratization are South Korea and Argentina. This paper explores some of the impacts of democratization on the developing countries.
Impacts of democratization on the developing countries
First, democratization of the developing countries shows a significant improvement in poverty alleviation compared to countries that are under authoritarian rule. In countries such as Singapore and Taiwan, the level of poverty has reduced since the introduction of democracy. Countries in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America have also made a small improvement in poverty elimination. Therefore, democracy in most of the developing countries has helped to prevent such scenarios as famine, though the best results are not achieved yet. Democracy that advocates for fairness among citizens has enabled the government to distribute resources equally so as to reduce the wide gap between the rich and the poor (Varshney, 1999 pp36).
The reason that democracy has not yet eliminated poverty entirely is because the percentage of poor people in the developing countries is extremely large compared to the developed European countries. With the number of the poor being high, it is difficult to turn them to a rich economy that can act to monitor the government. However, the large number of the poor in a democratic country can help bring changes. This is because the poor in a democratic country are able to vote, and with their large population, they can bring changes via their votes (Varshney, 1999 pp32).
Democracy also impacts on the reduction of a country`s corruption level. Corruption is one of the problems that prevent a country, especially a developing one, from attaining economic development and modernization. Recent studies show that there is a negative relationship between economic growth and corruption. This is because corruption reduces the ratio of investment to GDP, and this weakens the economy of a country. There is a relationship between democracy and corruption, whereby higher level of democracy in a country results to less corruption (Yehoue, 2007pp20).
However, simple democracy, whereby there is only one party ruling, is not efficient to eradicate corruption. Reduction of corruption levels is conducted by the use of a liberal democracy with a multiparty system. The multiparty system will lead to competition of power by fair and free election, and this increases political participation that manipulate the electoral process. With sound democratic institutions, which include independent judiciary and media together with political participation, corruption can be easily combated. This is because a sound democratic country, as well as a healthy political competition, considerably accelerates anti-corruption reforms in the government (Chan, 2002 pp22).
The other impact of democratization is its ability to reduce the level of political repressions, experienced in many developing countries. Efforts to reduce political repression started at the end of the Cold War when democracy was introduced in many developing countries that were under colonial rule. Therefore, democracy reduces the level of political repression as well as discrimination of ethno political minorities. The democratic government in a country protects all the people since it guarantees the protection of all human rights, which, therefore, prevents discrimination among the minor groups in the country. Autocrats are expected to repress more than democrats, since in a democratic government the threat faced by the government is less than that one of autocratic government (Diamond, Lipset & Linz, 1988 pp 42).
Additionally, the greater level of democracy and accountability of the elected leaders reduces their ability to repress domestically because citizens can call for the resignation of a leader they oppose. The system of checks and balance in democratic countries together with the non-violent and democratic norms within the government makes it impossible to come up with an institution that can carry out repression. Democracies are less repressive than autocracies because autocracies lack factors that mitigate repression such as those used by democracies. Autocratic leaders are likely to repress because they are not affected by institutions that countervail repression.
Democracy has also been found to increase economic freedom in the developing countries. This means that as political freedom increases, economic freedom also increases significantly. This implies that, economic freedom is closely related to democracy, also known as political freedom. The components of economic freedom are voluntary exchange, personal choice and protection of private property. Money and inflation are among the items that can be used to measure economic freedom. This is the situation whereby a country has found money for its citizens. In this case, to achieve the highest economic freedom the monetary system should be slowly expanding, and stable prices and lack of restrictions that limit the use of alternative currencies should be introduced. All these can be easily protected by freedom to maintain bank accounts abroad and to own money domestically. These rights can only be achieved with the presence of democracy in the country (Yehoue, 2007 pp7).
In addition, high economic freedom can be achieved when the aim of the government is to protect its people and to produce public products. This is attained through a democratic government that allows freedom to be involved and compete in the market. It also offers freedom from restriction of the government that does not cause positive interest rates. The government also controls prices and businesses, so they cannot come up with their prices. A democratic government has a category of takings and discriminatory taxation that measure whether the government treats its citizens equally or deals with transfer and tax activities. For the government to achieve a high economic freedom, it should not engage into the activities that discriminate a certain group of citizens. This category of subsidies and transfers, according to the percentage of GDP, deals with tax rates and uses recruitment to get the military personal that protects the citizens during their involvement in the market in order to achieve economic freedom (Iqbal & You, JI, 2001 pp35).
The other impact of democracy on the developing countries is that it fosters economic globalization, which deals with trade and capital account openness. Globalization is the increasing interchange of information, ideas, goods, money and people across the national borders. According to the research, democracy influences capital account and trade openness, positively. However, trade and capital account openness does not influence democracy. Democracy promotes peace since people are involved in decision-making process and, hence, they choose what they want. The peace in a democratic state creates a safe environment for commerce such as trade conducted across the national borders (Aman, 2004 pp41).
According to the research, democratizing states are capable of implementing reform policies such as trade and economic liberalization. This is because democracy promotes free flow of finance and trade among countries. Democracy has also been associated with the rapid decline of financial and trade barriers, which hinder economic and trade liberalization. This was seen among developing countries in the 1980s when they started using democracy as a form of governance after they had become free from colonial rule. With the economic and financial liberation, the developing countries are able to increase their economic growth and this has led to improvement in some of the developing countries such as South Korea and Taiwan. The income obtained from global trade is used to reduce the level of poverty, diseases and illiteracy, the reasons why many developing countries are lagging behind (Aman, 2004 pp41).
Democratization of the developing countries has a positive impact on education. In many developing countries, the number of poor people is normally higher than the number of the rich. Therefore, the poor who have problems in educating their children can vote for free education or influence the governors to consider the issue of education during the decision-making process. This has helped many developing countries that practice democracy to introduce free education so as to educate the poor who contribute to lower economic growth.
Kenya, being one of the developing countries, has introduced free education to reduce the number of illiterate citizens. Literacy has also helped many people in understanding the importance of family planning, which has been an issue which resulted to high population in many developing countries. With the awareness of family planning through education, many developing countries are at least able to reduce the number of population to the one that can be managed easily by the government.
Democratization for many developing countries in the 20th and 21st centuries brought many positive changes immediately after the Cold War. First, democracy has reduced some of the trade and financial barriers, hence, increasing both trade and economic liberation that has led to high economic growth. Improvement of the education system is another impact of democratization, which has reduced the number of illiterate people who increase the level of poverty in a country. Democracy has reduced the level of corruption in the developing countries. Corruption has been one of the reasons for the low economic growth; however, due to increased political participation, these democratic governments came up with anti-corruption reforms aimed to reduce corruption.
Democracy has also reduced the level of poverty in some of the developing countries, e.g., Singapore. Although, the best results have not been achieved due to the large population of the poor in the most developing countries, the level of poverty has declined compared to the autocratic countries. In addition, democracy has promoted both economic freedom and economic globalization in many developing countries. It has helped many developing countries to achieve the highest economic freedom by slowly expanding the monetary system and introducing stable prices and lack of restrictions that limit the use of alternative currencies. These have been attained by the presence of freedom to maintain bank accounts abroad and to own money domestically.