In the article “Self-Enforcing Democracy” Adam Przeworski argues that a democracy can only survive if it is self-enforcing. He notes that for a democracy to have any good effects, it needs to enforce itself. For example, those people who are in control of the government must be willing to hold regular, competitive, free and fair elections and all parties must be willing to comply with the results. Przeworski states that all the political forces that may be responsible for the overthrow of a democracy must be maintained at equilibrium at all times. There are certain conditions that have to be met to ensure the maintenance of democracy including the egalitarian income distribution. He further notes that if the degree of income distribution is not efficient for the poor or it is excessive for the wealthy, both sets of people may decide to turn against the democracy (Przeworski, 4). The author further notes that democracies survive in countries with a high per capita income. People would support democracies if they lead to social and economic equality. Przeworski notes that during elections, the two parties (poor and wealthy) will vote for the most convenient redistribution model. The outcomes of an election can either be supported or denied by the parties based on what they believe is best for them. Income plays the determining role in the stability of a democracy (Przeworski, 6).
The article states that democracies survive in wealthy nations given the redistribution of income that is acceptable for all. This would mean that if income distribution is quite equal, there is a high likelihood that a democracy may be able to survive. Poor countries, on the other hand, lack systems to ensure acceptable income distribution levels and this may lead to conflicts and fights between the rich and the poor. This is a threat to democracy. As a country’s wealth grows, the rich tend to tolerate more and the poor complain less about the inequality. Such a scenario would lead the acceptance of the outcome of an election. Economic crises play an important role in democracies as they affect per capita income. Worse economic times would threaten the survival of a democracy due to the less per capita income. For a democracy to survive there needs to be an egalitarian redistribution of income, acceptance of election outcomes and a constitution that supports a democracy.
John Freeman and Dennis Quinn in their article “The Economic Origins of Democracy Reconsidered” argue that due to financial globalization and financial integration, countries have been able to create diversified international asset portfolios. The diversification of assets has decreased the collective action capacity for the opposition of democracy. Financial globalization, as they found out, is associated with the increasing inequality, capital taxation and democratization (Freeman & Quinn, 3). The authors found out that there is a humped relationship between income inequality and democracy for the financially closed societies and an upward slope relationship in autocracies with financially integrated systems. They note that countries with financial integrated systems and higher levels of income inequality are more likely support democracy. The authors refute the claim that income inequality hampers a country’s prospects for democratization, citing new studies that have shown no conclusive results on the linkage between the two. They take note of the fact that income inequality is a major determinant of democracy. The authors theorize that the new forms of global financial integration are the main reasons behind the inequality and the democracy debate 9freeman & Quinn, 8).
The two authors state that due to the different ways by which international financial globalization together with other forms of economic globalization affect factor prices, they enhance the prospects for democracies. Increase in financial openness, for example, would make the median voter prefer lower taxes. Democracies increase where there are lower levels of income inequality because they lessen the redistributive effects of a democracy. This goes on to mean that the issue of economic integration is a force in the democratization of a society and democracy consolidation. Financial globalization has affected income equality and hence it is the countries with higher or lower levels of income inequality that are most likely to democratize and consolidate a democracy.
Freeman, John and Dennis Quinn (2012). The Economic Origins of Democracy Reconsidered. American Political Science Review 106 (no. 1, Feb.), 58-80.
Przeworski (2006). Self-enforcing Democracy. In Weingast and Wittman, editors, The OxfordHandbook of Political Economy.