If you have to live under an authoritarian regime, which kind is best?
BY JOSHUA E. KEATING | <http://www.foreignpolicy.com/issues/193/contents/
It seems pretty obvious that democratic governments are less corrupt and
provide better services to their citizens than autocracies, right? Wrong.
Well, at least not all the time. In fact, Transparency International's
widely cited <http://cpi.transparency.org/cpi2011/results/
Perceptions Index gave Cuba a better score than Mexico in 2011 and ranked
monarchist Jordan above democratic Italy.
Nor are all dictatorships the same when it comes to corruption and graft.
It's clear that some authoritarian governments -- Singapore being the
classic example -- have been much better than others at providing clean,
efficient governance. So assuming you're unlucky enough to live under a
dictator's thumb, which kind of thumb is the best?
Political scientists Nicholas Charron and Victor Lapuente
> recently examined four types
of authoritarian governments: single-party states, military juntas,
monarchies, and personalist regimes -- governments strongly tied to the
charisma of a single leader. They found that single-party states -- think
China and Vietnam -- are the most responsive to citizens' demands, providing
a higher quality of governance. "They have to spread out among the
population and search for consent," Charron says. "This forces them to be a
little bit more responsive." Chances are the Chinese Communist Party has not
lasted through the use of force alone, but also by making popular
investments in China's infrastructure and social services.
If single-party governments really are more responsive, governance should
improve as a country gets richer and citizens demand still more economic
development. And indeed, a sample of 70 authoritarian countries between 1983
and 2003 found that in single-party states, good-governance indicators, such
as lack of corruption and provision of public services, did increase along
Military regimes, on the other hand, are "inherently susceptible to internal
splits within the ruling military elite" and are therefore "less likely to
undertake encompassing administrative reforms," according to the study.
Charron points to Syria, whose government -- dominated by an elite class of
military officers from President Bashar al-Assad's Alawite clan -- has
proved far less open to reform than Jordan's monarchy or Egypt under
President Hosni Mubarak.
As the world has seen this past year, it often takes bloodshed to pressure
such regimes to commit to political reform -- perhaps as good a reason as
any for Egypt's post-revolution junta to exit the scene as quickly as
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Received on Wed Apr 25 2012 - 09:25:12 EDT