Wednesday, August 1, 2012

South South Cooperation and Democracy, Development, Society: Some Generic Thoughts

Our time in the current years is already observing a shift in the dominance of nations towards countries of South like India and China.  South South Cooperation has achieved a new meaning in the context of this shift in the dominance  towards Southern Countries. Additionally, countries of Europe have been going through sovereign debt crisis. This has added to the woes of North North cooperation.
Growing protectionism in U.S driven by the financial crisis has acted as a barrier in determining a smooth transition to North South Cooperation. With this premise the importance of South South Cooperation has increased. This article would not however dwell on these dimensions of South South Cooperation. This short note would ratherexplore the theoretical generic question of whether cooperation of South South nature is driven by the state and nature of democratization of the two states that get involved in cooperation.
So the basic question that we explore in this note is – Does the nature, state of democratization of two states in a South South cooperation guarantee or ascertain the degree, extent and sustainability of cooperation?
In order to get an answer to this question we have to first search through the extensive literature on democratization. Dahl (1998) suggests that democratization as a subject has been widely researched. Geddes (1999) provides extensive literature for Latin America on nature of democracy. However Collier, Levitsky (1997), Geddes (1999), Kitschelt (1992), Remmer (1996) provides us with literature on how and why democracies sustain and how quality of a democracy determines that longevity. Literature validates that quality and longevity of democracy of a country to a large extent is being determined by the level of economic development.
Economic development has also a considerable effect on the sustainability of democracy (Przeworski & Limongi, 1997). Sustainability of democracy is ensured by higher levels of economic development along with other factors like degree of socioeconomic equality. So two countries which can be at the same levels of development can forge a larger beneficial spillovers from cooperation. South South Cooperation between countries at similar levels of development thus might work if we try to bridge this theory of democracy to nature of South South Cooperation.
Additionally, two countries can be at different levels of democratization levels but still cooperation can emerge with a vision of complementary partnership. In terms of South South Cooperation the level of democratisation in two partnering countries might not always be a key factor.
However the level of democratization and stable political environment in two countries can help in the forging of the cooperation measures. According to Fish (1998), Kopstein &Reilly (1999), economic reform is one of the best indicators of democratization. In this regard, one needs to see how various countries of South are performing in terms of sustainability, longevity of democracy.
Rich post socialist countries have performed better in terms of sustainability of democracy whereas countries like Albania, Kyrgyztan have been moving away.   Sustainability of democratization is guaranteed by economic growth and reforms that can reduce  the authoritarian structure of the ruling party. With higher economic growth often the accountability of people of the nation can increase with the implementation of necessary domestic reform measures. Public pressure for accountability of the government, larger civil society participation and increased levels of education are some of the outcomes that incur with the advent of economic reforms which leads to larger transparency and democratization on the path of increasing democratization. The moot question is whether occurrence of such conditions in two countries forging a South South Cooperation facilitate the chance and nature of longevity of the nature of cooperation.

Any cooperation measure which aims to promote development, can benefit the public at large by creating more transparent accountable structures that can sustain the degree of cooperation. The same principle will hold good for South South Cooperation measures. .
If there is a chance of economic reform that can happen as a spillover of South South cooperation, then such cooperation measures could be used to create democratization in the countries that get engaged in those measures. Performance of south south cooperation in terms of its sustainability can actually increase if those measures create more stable democratization process as an outcome of cooperation.
If the two nations can discount the fact that such democratization process can start as an outcome of the cooperation, then there is a larger change that they will forge such cooperation provided that the two countries are not being guided by authoritarian government and governance principles.
However whether such democratization will happen or not also depends on the political leadership which  is at the centre stage of South South cooperation measures. The value system instilled by the political leaders in the implementation measures  of South South cooperation policies will guide the nature of democratization as an outcome of the South South Cooperation measures.
Democratization process can be understood through a short and long term view. The one which has emerged in southern Europe or in East of Africa is more of a long term nature whereas the one which has emerged in Latin America, Europe is of a short term nature (Di  Palma, 1990).

The reason behind this different duration of democracy and its effect on economic reform can happen owing to a following reason.  In a country which has achieved a new democracy, people are more sensitive and if they expect that there are chances of losing out from economic reform process in the new democracy then the tensions can increase between a new democracy and economic reform. Precisely this then guides how long a democracy will stay in a country. Two countries in South South Cooperation on same levels of economic development can forge a stronger partnership. But the strength of the partnership will also depend on how internally the people of the countries are managing the tensions between the trade offs of economic reform, democracy and the fears of losing out from such economic reform process. This can only happen if the domestic governance structures, institutions of the two countries are not able to give confidence to the people of the nation. The degree of confidence giving by the state to the people in turn also depends on the positioning of the democracy and at what point of democracy the two countries are standing out. If the democracy is well rooted to the social origins of the people then the fragility and negativity of the tensions between the people from loosening out from a growing democracy, economic reform process can go down. This can instill larger strength to the nature of democratic functioning of the nations, which thereby can also help in forging in South South Cooperation measures of the two partnering countries.
Historical dynamism and relationship guides this process that can also thereby act as a contributory factor in determining the South South Cooperation relationship of the two countries. The nature of the relationship within the countries and people of the countries also determine the cooperation relationship. One can find linkages between this proposition and Moores work on social origins of democracy .  Social origins of democracy will also depend on how people, civil societies are functioning in a democratic state and whether the state is connected to the people through civil society groups. Such connection can go up through reduction in concentration of bureaucratic and aggregated forms of representation.  Robust civil society participation, transparent institutional functioning, larger societal disaggregated linkages across the people of the society existing in the nations forging South South Cooperation can pave a way towards stronger social origins of democracy in partnering countries of South South Cooperation.

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