Monday, April 25, 2005

Developing Democracies Need Strong Judiciary and Media to Balance New Elected Governments

The Democracy Trap: "Paul Collier and Anke Hoeffler, two economists at Oxford University...[contend]... that the tendency to focus on elections is correct in most societies but misguided in oil states. In a country such as Iraq, the United States and its allies should care at least as much about the quality of Iraq's judiciary and media as about the quality of its voting...

This conclusion needs to register with the Bush administration. It's natural to defer to Iraqi leaders as they write their constitution this year; after all, it's their country. But the political class in any nation has few incentives to create checks on its own freedom to govern, and elections, which take place only occasionally and attract lots of healthy international attention, are easier to get right than the boring details of competitive tendering. Left to its own devices, Iraq is likely to fall into the trap that Collier and Hoeffler describe -- a constitution that focuses adequately on how power is achieved but too little on how it is exercised."

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