The economic performance of democratic states in Africa is a rising concern against the assumptions of the modernization theory that, developing nations must adopt the values of the western societies (democracy) in order to develop. The third wave of democratization in Africa rather led to harsh economic conditions, especially from the international financial institutions as a means of receiving aid. These conditions deteriorated the economic development of most African states and cast doubts on the assertion that liberal democracy facilitates development. This leads to the question of whether democracy is the ideal form of governance for developing states. Should Ghana adopt another governance model in order to develop? The study primarily examines the relationship between the political system of Ghana and its path to economic growth and development by analyzing some key factors that contributed to the development of Singapore as a blueprint for Ghana. Using a mixed-method research approach, the study employed the Excel Software to analyze the performance of both states using the economic growth, inflation levels and the Human Development Index (HDI), as against the political system of Ghana under a democratic rule and Singapore, an authoritarian rule. The study indicates that Singapore outperformed Ghana in all the economic indicators adopted in the study which some scholar’s attribute to the success of the existence of the one-party dominance –the People’s Action Party (PAP). The study definitively answers the question that democracy significantly impacts growth when its tenets are applied with some developmental strategies. Ghana should continue to promote its democratic credentials; however, there’s the need to change the focus from just conducting elections and winning power to the development of the nation.
CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION
Background to the Research Problem
Evidence found in the works of scholars in comparative politics of several decades in development studies shows that democracy leads to economic development or economic development provides opportunities for democratization. The latter confirms to a large extent, the hypotheses made by Lipset that the state of an economy can influence the democratization process (Christie, 1998a). A growing concern is to explore the correlation between forms of government and the levels of economic development that a country enjoys. This has been explored by some scholars and concluded that people living under matured democracies are generally economically advanced than those living under any form of government, particularly authoritarian regimes. The nexus between democracy and economic development in recent past indicates a strong correlation between them. However, the debate has changed over time. The third wave of democratization across the African continent changed the debate to how democracy could rather foster economic development.
The influential book of Samuel Huntington, “The Third Wave”, announced the notions of “waves of democratization” in world politics. The first wave occurred between 1826 and 1926, marking the emergence of democratic regimes in the early 19th century (Doorenspleet, 2000, p. 385). “The reverse wave occurred by the end the Second World War, and the third, beginning of the mid- 1970s” which led to a global swing and brought states back to democracies. Hungtington, however, stressed that there was evidence of a third reversal in the third wave of democracies back to authoritarianism at the time of his writing (Huntington, 1993).
Sociologist Lipset in his work pointed out a linear correlation of economic development transforming from authoritarian states to democracies. He argued that the notion of economic development for democracy survived the test then concluded that, advanced nations turn to be more democratic than the poor countries (Lipset, 1959). Similarly, matured democracies are generally economically advanced than countries living under any other form of government, particularly authoritarian regimes.
Democracy is generally viewed as a system of governance where political leaders are voted to power, institutions exist to ensure separation of power, as well as an arena which provides citizens an extensive opportunity to participate in political life. According to Lipset, “democracy is defined as a political system which supplies regular constitutional opportunities for changing the governing officials” (Lipset, 1959).
According to Huntington, the central definition of democracy is solely elections. He defines “democracy as the selection of leaders through a competitive election by the people they govern” (Huntington, 1993). This definition limits democracy to elections which confirms the reason most states in Africa and even the illiberal government led the People’s Action Party (PAP) in Singapore believe to be practicing democracy just by conducting elections.
Diamond also conceptualized liberal democracy to be “a system for arriving at a political decision, where individuals require the power to decide the means of a competitive struggle for people’s vote” (Diamond 1999). This definition also stems from the minimalist approach of an electoral definition. Therefore, to incorporate the political and economic definitions of democracy from the above is not adequate to fit its implicit meaning. Most scholars use the term democracy in a purely political term.
Democracy from inception did not include any precise guideline of economics, however, most democratic states either embraced a free market system or a centrally planned system which has led to numerous debate on the best way of governance and their role in the economies of states. Proponents in the field of political economy regard economic freedom as a key pillar to the consolidation of democracy within a state.
The question posed is whether democracy thrives in the advanced countries than poor nations or development is conducive in only democracies. This argument has led to the struggle of most African states in the quest for the best governance system and solutions of its underdevelopment. The practice of liberal democracy is therefore held as the best system of governance whiles authoritarianism is frowned upon. Whiles democracies are desirable, the question usually posed is whether dictatorships are all negative. Singapore and Malaysia are valuable cases that are generally cited as empirical evidence to critique the assumptions that economic growth and development foster democratization. It offers a unique opportunity to analyze such claims.
To the African, the understanding of democracy is the presence of multi-parties, conduction of periodic elections and a system to prevent authoritarian regimes. According to Milliken and Krause (2002), democracy was inherited from the decolonization process without due consideration of the economic, cultural, political and social systems that existed in Africa. The economy of Ghana was labeled as a lower-middle-income nation with an unstable political landscape between military regimes and civil attempts to democratize between the periods of 1957 and 1992. Kwakye (2013) also states that Kwame Nkrumah ruled under the first republic as a civilian government from (1957-1966), followed by the second republic from 1969 to 1972 and then the third republic between 1979 to 1981 which were brief, lasting less than three years in power under military rule.
However, in 1992, Ghana transited to multiparty democracy which was adrift from dictatorship, which was perceived with the failure in economic policies of the government of the day that led to economic hardship. Ghana, on the other hand, was described as a front runner in the economic reform process and was regularly put forward by the international financial institutions (IFIs) as a country, whose democracy was stable and had the potentials to utilize grants for the betterment of its citizens (Leechor, 1994).