The 1990s have witnessed the ascendance of a new orthodoxy which asserts that democracy and development are mutually reinforcing. This is in marked contrast to the dominant consensus that held sway for the previous two decades, which stated that developmental progress in poor societies was best assured by strong states, ruled by authoritarian regimes.
Today, however, many new democracies are illiberal, non-participatory, and characterized by enormous inequalities. Developmental democracy cannot therefore be regarded as an assured outcome of a simultaneous process of economic and political liberalization. The central inquiry of this important new study concerns the extent to which it is possible to strive towards a new form of developmental state that can promote broad-based and equitable development in the context of legitimized, inclusive democracy.
The argument running through this book is that there is scope for continuous political intervention in the design of democratic institutions that shape the context of state-led development initiatives. Institutional arrangements which foster political participation, the dispersion of political power, and increased representation by women and other disadvantaged groups can make democratic regimes more sensitive to issues of poverty, social welfare, and gender discrimination through remedial action and policy commitments.