Democracy and development: Is there an institutional incompatibility?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • A. Leftwich


Publication details

DatePublished - Dec 2005
Issue number5
Number of pages17
Pages (from-to)686-703
Original languageEnglish


Since the end of the Cold War, two central foreign policy goals have risen to the top of the agenda of Western governments and development agencies. On the one hand, the reduction of poverty has increasingly dominated development thinking. Pro-poor economic growth, it is argued, is essential for these goals to be met. Moreover, it is also widely held that such growth and development is essential for reducing political instability, insecurity and conflict by expanding the arc of stakeholders in developing economies and deepening economic and political ties between countries. But democratization, on the other hand, remains a policy priority, not only for the usual moral reasons, but also because of the now widely accepted thesis that consolidated democracies are both more stable and also less likely to engage in conflict with each other. The problem, however, is that whatever the merits or limitations of these goals may be, there are also very complicated and potentially compromising structural tensions between the institutions required for stable and consolidated democracy and those required for rapid, effective and sustained growth and development. This argument is advanced here by looking at both development and democracy from an institutional point of view.

Bibliographical note

Article in Special Issue On the State of Democracy.

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