Public Governance in Asia and the Limits of Electoral Democracy

Public Governance in Asia and the Limits of Electoral Democracy

Edited by Brian Bridges and Lok Sang Ho

This book documents the search for a workable model of democracy in Asia. It begins with two conceptual chapters that explore the role of electoral democracy as a governance mechanism in the light of other governance mechanisms, then reviews the various forms of Asian democracy, including those that many may consider to be in name rather than in substance, that have been practiced to date, and indicates where these models may have failed or succeeded. Underpinned by extensive case studies, valuable insights into governance and democracy in Asia – arguably one of the most fascinating and dynamic regions in the world – are provided.

Chapter 3: Beyond Electoral Democracy: Promoting Good Governance in East Asia

Baohui Zhang

Subjects: asian studies, asian politics and policy, politics and public policy, asian politics, public policy, regulation and governance


Baohui Zhang The establishment of a mere electoral democracy cannot ensure effective governance and robust political legitimacy. The claim that a government based on elections will guarantee political stability and economic prosperity has proven to be overly optimistic. The ‘third wave’ of democratization that swept across the world in the last two decades has dramatically increased the number of countries that can be officially classified as democracies. However, not many of them can boast effective governance, political stability and economic progress. Instead, many newly established democracies in Africa, Asia and Latin America are troubled by governance crises. This chapter addresses recent governance crises in new democracies of East Asia. In particular, the chapter focuses on widespread political instabilities and declining democratic legitimacy in the region and suggests a wide range of reforms for good governance. Specifically, the chapter analyses the importance of constitutional design and the need to promote ‘good’ democracy. It suggests that East Asian democracies should strive for constitutional systems that avoid gridlocks and promote effective governance. Although adopting the parliamentary system represents the optimal strategy, reforming second-tier political institutions can also improve performances of presidential regimes in these countries. Moreover, these democracies need to develop the institutions and processes that encourage greater rule of law, system responsiveness, meaningful citizen participation, and socioeconomic equality. If taken, these reforms could provide East Asian democracies with enhanced stability, efficacy and legitimacy. INTRODUCTION Democracy has become the dominant political system of East Asia. However, the issue of what kind of democracy...

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