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Democratization and State Capacity in East and Southeast Asia

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-26, 16:29 authored by Marsh, I
This essay surveys the development of democracy in seven East and Southeast Asian states and its impacts on state capacity. The states covered are: South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Singapore. In the first five of these states, democratic structures have been introduced only over the last two decades. In the last two, they remain profoundly constrained. The essay considers the impacts of this development on state capacity. State capacity is a complex variable. It can be subdivided into three primary components: political, policy, and organizational capacities. Within each of these components, specific elements that have been affected by, or that potentially gain new significance from, democratization are examined. Political capacity involves political culture, political parties, the formation of executives, and executive-legislative relations. Policy capacity entails the assimilation of new policy strategies. Administrative capacity involves bureaucratic politicization and interest aggregation. The essay concludes that state capacity in all seven countries draws mostly on old foundations. Democracy has introduced new forms and new dynamic elements. However, its consolidation is a work in progress. For the moment, democratic forms constitute primarily a varnish, beneath which older patterns of power and authority continue to flourish.


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Taiwan Journal of Democracy



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