The Stability of Democracy

Economic development can but does not always ensure the stability of democracy. A growing economy can lead to a population of happy citizens, thriving under the success of a growing market. The basic concept of a growing economy creates happier people, making a country’s democratic stability strong and successful. That said, economic growth does not always led to democratic stability.. According to Lipset, the economy is a factor that can threaten the stability of democracy through class inequality and high debt levels. The wealth of even democratic nations can be unevenly distributed and reflects on a class system. Even with economic growth, there can be an extreme influx of income to the rich, but not to the poor citizens in the country. This creates problems within the democratic institution, as citizens are dissatisfied by the results of the economy’s growth.

In Chile, the government has been allowing essential laissez-fare regulations, favorable to businesses. Because of this the rich has prospered, while most citizens have not enjoyed economic growth. Thus, Chile has experienced high levels of inequality. Now under their new President Michelle Bachelet, heavier taxes have been imposed on the wealthy. She is attempting to bridge the gap of inequality between the rich and poor. Previously this imbalanced between upper and lower class has caused tension and protests. Despite Chile’s economic development the stability of the democracy has decreased. While the country was successful in creating economic development, they also produced a less equal and less democratic society overall. President Bachelet is attempting to fix this through her reformed tax code.

Economic development can help ensure a stable democracy, but this is not always the case. Other social factors such as education can help achieve a more stable democracy. Lipset argues in his article that strong democratic government comes from the countries that have the highest rates of educated citizens. An increase in higher education can help stabilize a democracy’s ideology. Though economic develop can ensure the stability of the democracy, this is not always the case, such as in Chile. Education, however can help lay the foundation for strong democratic stability, which economic development can not always provide.

Sermour Martin Lipset. 1959. “Some Social Requisites of Democracy: Economic Development and Political Legitimacy.” The American Political Science Review, 53(1):69-86. *

Cheibub, Jose Antonio, Adam Przewoprski, Fernando Papaterra Limongi Neto, Micheal Alvarez. 1996. “What Makes Democracies Endure” Journal of Democracy 7(1): 39-55.



2 thoughts on “The Stability of Democracy

  1. For a political democracy to be successful, the economic differences between wealth and poverty may become an obstacle, as suggested here. In order to have political equality, it is suggested that economic equality is needed. However, it’s important to recognize the difference between equality of economic outcomes, which can only be achieved via forced redistribution of economic resources and outcomes from those that have achieved success and the equality of economic opportunity, which allows for the liberty of every individual to achieve economic prosperity to the degree that the individual takes advantage of that liberty to achieve as much or as little prosperity as he/she desires or is willing to work for.

    However, the economically powerful citizens in society are often more favored. Through numerous past and current examples, political power follows those with economic strength. When a society that is truly divided by class, where the rich have the majority of political and economic power and the poor are actively suppressed, the political democracy is unable to achieve growth and success.

    From one position, a possible fix is a redistributionist action, where the vast separation of wealth is removed and every citizen in society receives enough resources for survival and adequate leisure for public activities, this is known as communism, or at the very least, socialism and the government becomes an active participant by redistributing these resources. Unfortunately, that economic model has never been successful and has only lead to a lower standard of living and lack of prosperity for the majority of the society’s citizens. Despite some of its drawbacks, a Capitalist economic model is the only economic model that has proven to provide the greatest degree of economic prosperity to the greatest number of societal participants

    The economic information provided to the public is also necessary to achieve a successful political democracy. A lack of public knowledge and understanding of economic activities can restrict the population’s, as well as the government’s achievements. Forming a system of self-governing institutions, such as a local district board can help inform the public more effectively concerning economic issues, which will allow.

  2. Lipset agrees with a statement of Tocqueville which states that social equity is highly conductive of democracy. This is by extension B.Barber’s fundamentals on substantive democracy where much emphasis is placed on social outcome and equity. He however, asserts that the economy is a factor that can threaten the stability of democracy through class inequality and high debt levels. This is an important factor which I believe is more often forgotten. A highly developed country does not reflect the democratic principles of its government. As a matter of fact, there is the need of division of social classes through the capitalist market.

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