When thinking of a President, Prime Minister, Dictator, King and Queen, etc. we tend to think of them as the highest authority figure for that country; historically they pass and enforce laws, negotiate with other countries, wage wars, and sign treaties. They are the men and women who run that country day-in and day-out. However, I, along with the authors of these readings, challenge those thoughts of a superior ruler and instead supplement them with an economic argument.
Democracy has been seen to endure in many countries due to a vast and growing economy. Many factors play a role in the formation, enhancement, and decline of democracy; these include, but are not limited to income, economic growth, trade relations, national GDP, and GDP per capita. We can see statistically in Treisman’s piece that the economy of a given country is proportional to the stability of a countries’ political system. We also hear from Inglehart and Welzel’s article that “today, it seems clear that the causality runs mainly from economic development to democratization.” We can conclude from Inglehart and Welzel that economic growth and stability supports a system of democracy. Treisman would agree, but not fully…
Treisman took a different look at democracy with in a given country. He, like many, looked at economics first, but was then able to tie in national leader’s political longevity and agendas to create statistical analyses that depict political leaders affect on democracy within their country. What he concluded was that “structural factors such as economic development shape political regimes, but not immediately… their effects are ‘switched on and off’ by the contingencies of leadership.” I agree with Treisman, the democracy of a country is determined by both economic factors and also by the political leaders agenda. He mentions how reactionary autocratic leaders can prolong not only economic development, which leads to democratization, but they also try to extend their tenure. Treisman argues that political agendas made to extent a leader’s tenure actually move the country into a more democratic system, which allows for the more democratic incumbent to take power.
In conclusion, I have found that political leaders have little to do with the stability of their democracy, but rather are riding a wave of economic growth. When that wave crashes they are left to flounder in attempts to hold onto their tenure, and by doing so they move their country further into democracy.
I chose an article from The New York Times article about the U.S opening relations with Cuban, which highlighted some key points about the gradual economic development of Cuba. They hinted at the Fidel Castro Regime, which caused a great divide within Cuba and how his fleeting attempts for a dictatorship was met with an even stronger, more democratic group. This more democratic group has grown and is now a major reason why the U.S is restoring Cuban relations.