Economic aid vs. democracy aid: democratic consolidation in Africa.

 
FREE EXCERPT

22 August 2012

Economic aid helps countries transition to multiparty systems but it is democracy aid which is more likely to encourage consolidation. A large amount of research has been done on the relationship between aid and democratic transition, but much of this groups all categories of aid together and does not look beyond democratic transition and towards indicators of democratic consolidation and deepening. These shortcomings are addressed by Simone Dietrich and Joseph Wright in the UNU-WIDER working paper 'Foreign Aid and Democratic Development in Africa'. They distinguish between two potential mechanisms for encouraging democratic consolidation: (i) the use of aid as leverage to buy political reform, and (ii) investment in the electoral process through aid specifically earmarked to help improve democracy and governance. They look beyond simple democratic transition by assessing the effect these types of aid have on five separate indicators, four of which relate to democratic consolidation.

Foreign Aid and Democratic Development in Africa

The past twenty years have seen donors increasingly linking foreign aid to democracy objectives in sub-Saharan Africa. In the same period many countries in the region have adopted multiparty political systems, perhaps the minimum condition required for democracy. However, in the 18 years from 1991-2008 only eight elections have resulted in the incumbent leaving office. A large amount of research has been done on the relationship between aid and democratic transition, but much of this groups all categories of aid together and does not look beyond democratic transition and towards indicators of democratic consolidation.

These shortcomings are addressed by Simone Dietrich and Joseph Wright in the UNU-WIDER working paper 'Foreign Aid and Democratic Development in Africa'. They distinguish between two potential mechanisms for encouraging democratic consolidation; the use of aid as leverage to buy political reform and investment in the opposition through aid specifically earmarked to help improve democracy and governance, strengthen public institutions and the civil society. They look beyond simple democratic transition by assessing the effect these types of aid have on five separate indicators, four of which relate to democratic consolidation. These indicators, and the findings that relate to them, are laid out below.

Democratic transitions and consolidation: findings

Using OECD figures for aid flows...

To continue reading

FREE SIGN UP