Governments in a time of need av

February 8th, 2009

Democracy is government by the people. President Abraham Lincoln famously defined democracy as government not only by, but also for and of the people; thus, what does constitute a democracy?

The question should also be nuanced to include different levels of democracy. Everyone who has attended school in a democratic country has been told what democracies are. Capitalizing on this notion we can choose three notions as reference points. One, free elections of a national assembly with at least two opposing parties, with term limits; two, fundamental rights, such as freedom of speech, property rights, political freedom, equality, human rights; and three, an independent judiciary should be mandatory.

An autocracy is a form of governance in which political power is concentrated around one self appointed ruler or party. an autocracy is generally thought of as a ruler who is self interested, but what about a true benevolent autocrat?

How does each form of governement fare in the light of a economic crisis? Is one type of government better at providing rapid economic growth? The relationship between  growth and type of governement is the source of much debate.

It could  be plausible that an autocracy can have the same economic growth and prosperity despite its lack of civil and political liberties. If so, is an autocracy more predesposed to help a nation out of a financial crisis? Or are democracies better off because of the positiv long term effects?

This discussion has no clear answers despite much empirical evidence exhibiting positive and negative cases, theories and prior research for both sides. Therefore, one can not come to a concrete conclusion about what is best.

Consequently, it can be argued that democracy is not necessarily more predisposed than an autocracy to develop economic growth, if there exits a benevolent autocrat.


Om forfatteren:  M.Sc. in Political Economy from the Norwegian School of Management, BA in Political Science from University at Buffalo


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