Markets, states and democracy: Patron–client networks and the case for democracy in developing countries
The debate between modernization theory and its opponents is over. Neither evidence nor argument can support the claim that authoritarianism is necessary for economic development. However, is democracy necessary for development, as opposed to obviously being desirable on other grounds? The evidence on how democracy actually operates in developing countries raises important questions about the relationship between markets, states, and democracies. In particular, the role of patron?client networks in these countries questions the relevance of the standard arguments made for the positive economic effects of democracy in developing countries. There is, however, an argument from the neo-Weberian school that claims that democratization can begin to undermine the patron?client relationships (neo-patrimonialism) that impede development. But in fact, there are powerful structural reasons why this is not likely to happen. Economic characteristics of developing countries make patron?client politics both rational for redistributive coalitions and effective as strategies for achieving the goals of powerful constituencies within these coalitions. These are unlikely to be affected by democratization. The evidence strongly supports our analysis. If this is right, and if many types of patron?client politics are damaging for development, democratization is unlikely to accelerate economic development. The case for democratization has to be made on other grounds.