Jumat, 02 Juli 2010

Democratic Regime and Developmental Regime: Different Direction but Same Spirit

The Concept of Democratic Regime and Development Regime

Principally, developmental states concept, initially offered by Chalmers Johnson (1982) with specific reference to Japan, can be understood as a Weberian ideal type of an interventionist state that was neither socialist (described as ‘plan irrational’ state in which both ownership and management remained in the hands of state) nor free market (no plan, and where private control coincided with private ownership). Such state conjoining private ownership with state or administrative guidance (gyōsei shidō), so that it can be avowed as “plan-rational capitalist developmental state”. This state form originated as the region’s idiosyncratic response to a world dominated by the West. (Woo-Cumings, 1999: 1).

In similar way, Leftwich (1996: 284) defines developmental states as those states whose internal politics and external relations have served to concentrate sufficient power, authority, autonomy, competence and capacity at the center to shape, pursue and encourage the achievement of explicit developmental objectives, whether by establishing and promoting the conditions of economic growth, or by organizing it directly, or a varying combination of both.

According to Leftwich (2000: 132, 153-154; 1996: 280), the continuum of developmental states varies from Singapore, Malaysia, Botswana, Mauritius, Thailand, Indonesia, China, Taiwan, and South Korea as developmental states on the one hand; and Venezuela, Costa Rica, Jamaica, India, Gambia, South Africa, Zaire, Bolivia, Argentina, Peru, Haiti, Nigeria, Philippines, Pakistan as non-developmental states on the other hand. Schneider (1999: 278) includes Italy, Germany, France, Mexico, Brazil and Japan as developmental states.

East Asian Countries such as Japan, Korea, and Taiwan are the best examples of developmental states. They have been successful because governments there have acquired control over a variety of things presumed critical to economic success: they can extract capital; generate and implement national economic plans; manipulate private access to scarce resources; coordinate the efforts of individual business; target specific industrial projects; resist political pressures from popular forces such as consumer and organized labor; insulate their domestic economies from extensive foreign capital penetration; and, most especially, carry through a sustained project of ever-improving productivity, technological sophistication, and increased world market shares (Pempel, 1999: 139).

Pempel (ibid.) and Johnson (1999: 44) provides further explanation that developmental state (hatten-shiko-kata kokka) is seen as one of ideal types of states beside regulatory state (kisei-shiko-kata kokka); all categorized by the state’s relationship to the domestic economy. The US and Britain exemplify the regulatory state. Such states are organized for and defined as their principal mission the setting of basic ‘fair’ rules for economic competition and the umpiring of private market disputes. Most economic outcomes are the outgrowth of impersonal and short-term price variations. Developmental states, on the other hand, define their mission primary in terms of long-term national economic enhancement. They actively and regularly intervene in economic activities with the goal of improving the international competitiveness of their domestic economies. From the description above, it can be easily implied that the meaning of development is closely related to economic growths or performances.

In order to simplify the understanding of developmental state concept, it is useful to restrict the definition of development merely as economic growth. Without intention to neglect the other ideas of development, economic growth is the most universal indicator for development and it is relatively measurable.

Countries that are not met with the definition of developmental state, therefore, will be classified as non-developmental states. In practice, non-developmental states occur in diverse types or styles. The concepts of predatory state (Pareto, 1966; Evans, 1995), weak state (Joe Migdal, 1987, 1988, 1994), and soft state (Gunnar Myrdal, 1970) refer to or can be seen as a reflection of non-developmental states. All concepts are cited in Leftwich’s book (1999).

Myrdal used the concept of soft state in an attempt to account for the slow pace of Indian development in the twenty years after independence (ibid: 80). Here, the 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. As a result, the soft state is incapable of promoting urgently needed development (ibid.).

The same as cited by Chang (1999: 183), Myrdal argued that a major reason for the economic stagnation of many developing countries was the absence of ‘hard state’ (or “institutionalization” in present term) that can override conservative interests in favor of social reform and economic transformation.

Likewise, Migdal proposes a concept of weak states, those are, states that have a low capability to penetrate society, regulate social relationship, extract resources and appropriate or use resources in determined ways (ibid: 97-98). Finally, Pareto’s account on predatory states means as appropriation of the goods of others by legal or illegal means. To this extent, the minority preys on the majority using the state as its engine of predation (ibid.: 100). Building on Pareto’s early formulation, Evans defines predatory states as those that extract such large amounts of otherwise investable surplus while providing so little in the way of ‘collective goods’ in return that they do indeed impede economic transformation. Those who control these states plunder without any more regard for the welfare of the citizenry than a predator has for the welfare of its prey (ibid.). Both weak states and predatory states have been used to explain the failures or relative slowness of development (ibid: 96).

In current situation, the demand of good governance is getting higher to replace non-developmental state idea. Since 1990s, good governance and democracy (taken together as ‘democratic good governance’) dominate and become confident assertion of official Western aid policy (Leftwich, 2000:127). According to UN ESCAP (2002: 2), good governance has 8 major characteristics. It is 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.

It is important to note that although Indonesia is categorized as developmental state, some quandaries are still evidently prevailed such as corruption, social gaps, economic inequalities and regional disparities. Whenever such problems exist in a country, I would say, personally, that this country couldn’t be judged to be a developmental state. Therefore, judging Indonesia as a developmental state is quite ambiguous. As Political and Economic Risk Consultancy (PERC, 2001) indicates, China, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam were perceived to be the most corrupt Asian nations. In line with PERC’s study, Effendi, cited by Utomo (2002-b), reveals that corruption in Indonesia is transforming from oligarchic corruption to democratic corruption. Moreover, after the implementation of Law No. 22/1999, some provinces prefer to detach and build as independent state due to unequal development treatment from the central government. Again, these indicate that there is something wrong in Indonesian development process, so that the status of developmental state for Indonesia is not so truthful.

Nevertheless, the impetus of the formulation of Law No. 22/1999 and its implementation is to promote good governance, particularly in local level. There is a hope that when good governance can be realized massively, development performance and democratic regime will automatically occur. Certainly, it cannot be observed clearly now since Law No. 22/1999 just come into effect no more than three years. As mentioned above, governmental reform in Indonesia is in a phase of transition; hence it does not produce any real benefits yet.

However, new paradigms of governance implemented are in line with the characteristics of developmental democracies, so that it could be envisaged that Indonesia and local government there would represent the democratic developmental states, at least in the long-term.

Interrelationship of Democracy and Development

Although there is no accordance among experts regarding the exact form of relationship between two variables, democracy and development, it is quite clear that each variable is affected by, and affect the other variable. Leftwich (2000: 130-131) is one writer who has solemn attention on those variables, from which he is able to describe its relationship vividly and obviously. In the 1960s, he argues, democracy was a concomitant of ‘modernity’ and hence an outcome of socio-economic development, not a condition of it. By citing Dahl (1971), he elucidates that democracy require a high level of literacy, communication and education, an established and secure middle-class, a vibrant civil society, relatively limited forms of material and social inequality, and a broadly secular public ideology. All this was a function of prior economic development, which would yield necessary conditions for sustainable democracy. Lipset (1960) as quoted by Leftwich (ibid.) summarizes that “the more well-to-do a nation, the greater the chances that it will sustain democracy”.

But this argument is changed now, actually even from 1960s. The critics argue that democracy and development are both compatible and functional for each other. If there is a trade-off between development and democracy, a slightly lower rate of growth is an acceptable price to pay for a democratic polity, civil liberties, and a good human right record. The point is that there have been many more non-democratic than democratic regimes that a various times have had disastrous developmental records such as Romania, Argentina, Haiti, Ghana, Myanmar, Peru, Ethiopia, and Mozambique. In other words, there is a new proposition that democracy is a necessary prior or parallel condition of development, not an outcome (Leftwich, 2000: 129).

It is interesting that after researching some case studies, (Leftwich, 2000: 133) comes to conclusion that there is no necessary relationship between democracy and development nor, more generally, between any regime type and economic performance. Crucially then, it has not been regime type but the kind and character of the state and its associates politics that has been decisive in influencing developmental performance. Based on this framework of thinking, he proposes five conditions for democratic survival. They are legitimacy, adherence to the rules of the game, consensus and constitutionalism, policy restrain by winners, and ability to overcome obstacle / constraint like poverty and ethnic / cultural / religious cleavage (Leftwich, 2000: 136-144; 1998: 58-60).

White (1998: 21-26) provides a more comprehensive and more detail explanation. He identifies four variant views of the relationship between democracy and development. From optimistic view, liberal democracy is a powerful stimulus to societal progress, basically because it provides a more conducive institutional environment for market-led economic development and because it carries the potential for more efficient, open, and accountable government. However, while it may be true that there is a long-term statistical correlation between democracy and prosperity, the statistical evidence in short and medium terms is ambiguous.

Meanwhile, pessimistic view regards democracy as a valuable long-term goal but a potential impediment to the earlier stages of socio economic development. In other words, democracy is a luxury which poor societies can ill afford to. Lee Kuan Yew has stated that ‘I believe that what a country needs to develop is discipline more than democracy’, so that he is entailed in this pessimistic view.

The third view is ‘don’t expect anything’ school of thought to which Huntington is one of its supporters. He argues that the sustainability of a stable democracy depends on disillusionment and lowered expectations on the part of the general population. This kind of view is buttressed by the argument that democratic regimes are not legitimized by their performance, but by their procedures. In authoritarian regimes, legitimacy derives from economic performance, so that they are vulnerable to economic downturns. Finally, the last view is that the nature of the political regime is not the central issue; rather it is good governance and state capacity. In essence, the argument here is for the primacy of constructing an effective developmental state, whether by authoritarian or democratic means White (ibid.).

Although there are controversies about the interrelationship of democracy and development, the basic point is that both democracy and prosperity (performance of development) is important for a state / country. Therefore, balancing democratic and developmental aspect constitutes strategic option if peoples’ life and peoples’ choice is to be improved. Development without democracy is regrettable, but democracy without development is ironic. In order to accelerate development process and, at the same time, to promote wider public participation in the development, or democracy, formulation and implementation of decentralization policy is extremely essential.

In other words, decentralization constitutes one of determinant factors in promoting democratic developmental regime, both at national and local level. However, decentralization is only a means, and thus, it will be useless without efforts to strengthen political commitment from any parties and to make other factors more conducive. In this regard, Kimura (2001: 9) believes that for building democratic and developmental local autonomy in Indonesia starting from the past situation, there are four necessary things to be done, as follows:

  • Revolutionary change of KKN (Indonesian acronym of corruption, collusion, and nepotism).
  • Changing mind and system of local government from the bureaucratic / technocratic top down way to democratic, participatory way and having the understanding that the major task of local government’s staffs for planning is the coordination.
  • Political sphere is to prioritizing various policies under the responsibility and leadership of local government Head.
  • Changing mind and system of local government from “waiting instruction” attitude to CS (customer satisfaction). For that purpose, the bottom staffs should be regarded not as “bottom” but as the “front staffs” implementing government services and monitoring people’s situation and response everyday. Front staffs’ voices should be one of the major routes of “bottom up” to be gathered and coordinated by brainstorming weekly meetings for example.

What Kimura suggests is actually a sort of subsequent stage of democratization and reform with specific reference to internal management of the local governments. This thought has very close relation with what is prepared by Indonesian government. As noted by Yudhoyono (2003a), the key challenge for "second wave of reform" is ability to connect democracy with good governance. He argues that democracy does not come in one package with governance. They are two different things. Democracy does not automatically produce national unity, economic recovery, political stability, human rights, social equity or security. Democracy and reform can only deliver these things if it is furnished with good governance. That’s the reason why the following key national tasks must be seriously addressed to realize good governance:

  • Consolidating the democratic system. This requires developing the rules and norms which guide democratic system, and, more importantly, pushing the Indonesian body politic to develop a habit to working with that system. This also requires a more open policy processes and greater accountability in government.
  • Pressing on full speed with economic recovery and reforms. As Indonesia "graduates" from the IMF program at the end of 2003, the key challenge will be to maintain our commitment and the pace of economic reforms that had been underway.
  • Pursuing legal reforms, especially in fighting corruption and establishing good governance.
  • Normalizing conditions and maintaining stability in Indonesia's troubled areas: Aceh, Papua, Poso, Maluku, Central Kalimantan, and West Timor.

From the above passage, it can be implied that creating democratic developmental regime is not so easy as in the theoretical debate. It needs a long process and consistency both at formulation and implementation stages. One clear thing is that giving wider autonomy to local governments through decentralization policy is the right pathway to achieve democratic developmental regime.


Chang, Ha-Joon, “The Economic Theory of the Developmental State”, in Meredith Woo Cumings (ed.), The Developmental State, Cornell University Press.
Johnson, Chalmers, 1982, MITI and the Japanese Miracle: The Growth of Industrial Policy, 1925-1975, Stanford: Stanford University Press.
Kimura, Hirotsune, 2001, “The Capacity Building for Democratic Developmental Local Governance”, in Kimura Hirotsune, Local Government Capacity Building and Poverty Alleviation: Policies Within the Framework of Decentralization, Cases of The Philippines and Indonesia, Research Report, GSID Nagoya University.
Leftwich, Adrian, 1996, “Two Cheers for Democracy? Democracy and the Developmental State”, in Adrian Leftwich (ed.), Democracy and Development: Theory and Practice, Polity Press.
_______________, 1998, “Forms of the Democratic Development State: Democratic Practises and Development Capacity”, in Mark Robinson and Gordon White (ed.), The Democratic Developmental State: Politics and Institutional Design, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
_______________, 2000, States of Development: On The Primacy of Politics in Development, Cambridge: Polity Press.
Pempel, T.J., 1999, “The Developmental Regime in a Changing World Economy”, in Meredith Woo Cumings (ed.), The Developmental State, Cornell University Press.
PERC, 2001, Corruption In Asia In 2001, Excerpt from Asian Intelligence Issue #579 March 7, 2001. Available online at http://www.asiarisk.com/lib10.html. Also see http://www.globalpolicy.org/nations/corrupt/2001/0319asia.htm.
Schneider, Ben Ross, 1999, “The Desarrollista State in Brazil and Mexico”, in Meredith Woo Cumings, The Developmental State, Cornell University Press.
UN ESCAP (United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific), 2002, What Is Good Governance? Available online at http://www.unescap.org/huset/gg/governance.htm
Utomo, Tri Widodo W., 2002(b), Autonomy and Threat of Local Authoritarianism (Indonesian version), Kompas, May 1, 2003. Available online at http://www.kompas.com/kompas-cetak/0305/01/opini/281612.htm
White, Gordon, 1998, “Constructing a Democratic Developmental State“, in Mark Robinson and Gordon White (ed.), The Democratic Developmental State: Politics and Institutional Design, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Woo-Cumings, Meredith, 1999, “Introduction: Chalmers Johnson and the Politics of Nationalism and Development”, in Meredith Woo Cumings (ed.), The Developmental State, Cornell University Press.
Yudhoyono, Susilo Bambang, 2003, Keeping the Promise of “Reformasi”, US-INDO Gala Dinner, Washington DC. Available online at http://www.indonesia-house.org/PoliticHR/PHR0903/091903Keeping_the_promise_of_reformasi.htm

This article is taken from a part of my Master Thesis, “Decentralization and Capacity Building in Indonesian Local Administration: A Long Journey for Discovering a Model of ‘Democratic Developmental Regime’ (Case Study of Bandung City Government)”, 2004, Graduate School of International Development, Nagoya University, Japan.

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