Edited by Brian Bridges and Lok Sang Ho
Chapter 3: Beyond Electoral Democracy: Promoting Good Governance in East Asia
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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