Jumat, 26 Maret 2010

Introducing “Democratic Developmental State“

Democratic developmental state or regime (DDR) is a major trend in the end of 20th century. It is an ideal concept trying to combine two different variables into one. The notion of DDR is actually in line with the spirit of governance. Generally speaking, DDR is a regime that is fit to the following features: participatory, consensus oriented, accountable, transparent, responsive, effective and efficient, equitable and inclusive, and follows the rule of law. It assures that corruption is minimized, the views of minorities are taken into account, and that the voices of the most vulnerable in society are heard in decision-making. It is also responsive to the present and future needs of society.

Even though DDR consists of two different variables, it is compatible and functional for each other, so that it can be accomplished simultaneously. Creating DDR is indeed not so easy as in the theoretical debate. It needs a long process and consistency both at formulation and implementation stages. The most important thing here is not which one is better for a given country, or which one should be accomplished first, or how much democratic and developmental is a country, but how does a community move from undemocratic system to relatively more democratic one and from un-developmental to relatively more developmental one. In other words, the permutation of “developmental and democratic” is not “black and white”; it is a “gray area” instead. And the gradation of “gray” is very much varied among countries and regions.

Democratic state or democratic regime can be defined in its minimalist or broad meaning. In a narrow or minimalist perspective, democracy refers to a political system in which people, political parties and groups are free to pursue their interests according to peaceful, rule-based competition, negotiation and cooperation. In practice, this means free and regular election, plus peaceful succession where government change, and the protection of civil and political liberties. In a broader term, however, democratic regime aims at creating harmonious relations between national and local elites (executive and legislative officials) and social / community groups in the process of development. In this case, political participation of the local dwellers must be widely opened; and barriers to public involvement in the process of formulation and implementation of local development must be eliminated. In can also be said that democratic infrastructure of governance requires willingness of elite / bureaucracy to create and provide a consultancy forum, encompassing all civil society components such as NGOs, media, CCI and AC (Chamber of Commerce and Industry – Agricultural Cooperatives), labor union, professional organization, community groups or neighborhood association, as well as local businessmen. Such kind of mutual relationship will, in turn, assure the institutionalization of development policy.

The existence of consultation forum for regional development policy is crucial viewed from three aspects. First, this forum may function as the media for the society to express their ideas and expectations about the future of their regions. It can be stated that this forum functions as a medium to democratize the decision process making in the region. Second, the forum may function as a center for various community groups with different interests. This forum is expected to be able to produce a dynamic compromise on development planning agenda in accordance with the needs of the local community. Third, the two-way relations between local government and society members will indirectly create a mechanism of check and balance. This inevitably encourages government to improve its public transparency and accountability.

Developmental state is commonly seen as a reverse idea of non-developmental state, which is formed in diverse styles such as soft states, weak states, or predatory states.

Soft state is characterized by “a general lack of social discipline in underdeveloped countries, signified by deficiencies in legislation and, in particular, in law observance and enforcement, lack of obedience to rules and directives handed down to public officials on various level, often collusion of these officials with powerful persons or groups of persons whose conduct they should regulate, and, at bottom, a general inclination of people in all strata to resist public controls and their implementation. Within the concept of the soft state belongs also corruption.
Weak states are states that have a low capability to penetrate society, regulate social relationship, extract resources and appropriate or use resources in determined ways.
Predatory states are those that extract large amounts of surplus while providing so little in the way of ‘collective goods’ in return that they do indeed impede economic transformation.

In a short manner, developmental state must satisfy two preconditions, i.e. strong bureaucracy and strong society. However, there are at least three common characteristics of developmental regime:

1• A state or a regime whose political and bureaucratic elites have achieved relative autonomy from socio-political forces. In other words, the developmental regime is typically driven by an urgent need to promote socio-economic development, and to win legitimacy by delivering steady improvement in the material and social well being of its citizens.
2• Relatively uncorrupted elites as well as sound regulations.
3• Real power, authority and technical competence of bureaucracy in shaping the fundamental trust of developmental policy.

As a matter of fact, recently many cases of corruption, weak-states, powerless civil society, and mismanagement of development are quite widespread in the third world countries. However, as a result of global trend on good and democratic governance, public accountability and transparency, as well as customer satisfaction, they are transforming from relatively undemocratic and centralized regimes to more democratic and decentralized one. In this case, the commitment of national and local governments to build a “democratic infrastructure” within their own environment will determine the success of good and democratic governance. © Tri Widodo WU.

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