There is much literature describing the relationships between democratic regime type and economic development. Institutional economics emphasize the importance of democracy for guaranteeing property growth and economic growth. The diametrically opposed theory states that economic development brings about institutional improvements.
The liberal democratic regimes in the developed states have been categorized as polyarchical regimes by Robert Dahi in his work ‘Polyarchy: Participation and Opposition’. The term ‘polyarchy’ has been preferred to ‘liberal democracy’ by the western comparative political theorists primarily because of two reasons. First, liberal democracy as a concept has been treated mostly as a political ideal than a form of regime, and is thus invested with broader normative implications. Second, the usage of the concept of ‘polyarchy’ tends to acknowledge that the democratic regimes in the developed countries, mostly western, still fall short, in significant ways, of the goat of democracy as theorized in political theory.
The liberal democratic or polyarchical regimes are to be found in the states of North America, Western Europe and Australia. However, there are states like Japan and South Africa who also exhibit the same characteristics. Some of these characteristics may be identified in a brief manner as given below: These democratic regimes represent political institutions and practices which include universal suffrage.
Elections of representatives for a specified period makes them directly responsible to people. These regimes also provide equal opportunities to the citizens to compete for public office. The political parties and the political leaders enjoy the rights to compete publicly for support. Free and fair elections are the basis of the formation of governments. A competitive party system is supplemented by the pressure groups and the lobbying organizations. These pressure groups influence the conduct of the government by mobilizing the people.
The democratic regimes reflect a high level of tolerance of opposition that is sufficient to check the arbitrary inclination of the government. The existence of alternative sources of information independent of the control of the government and of one another is helpful in this regard. Institutionally guaranteed and protected civil and political rights are further strengthened by the presence of the new social movements. It all results into a vigorous and democratically conscious civil society.
Rule after the Second World War. Decolonisation brought forth modernizing political elite of the ‘new’ states might successful nationalist, anti-colonial movements into democratic Government advance the gigantic task of nation building and State building States, however, suffered from severe handicaps, some in the conditions like lack of literacy and industrial development and their traditional cultures like lack of democratic experience.
These democratic regimes derive their underpinnings from the western liberal individualistic tradition of political thought. Thus, besides guaranteeing the individual rights they also support free competitive market society. The cultural and ideological orientation of these regimes likewise is also derived from western liberalism. The democratic regimes in the developed World are not considered all alike.
Some of them tend to favour centralization and majority rule whereas others favour fragmentation and pluralism. Thus, the comparative political theorist like Lijphart distinguishes these regimes between ‘majority’ democratic regimes and the ‘pluralist’ democratic regimes.
The ‘majority’ democratic regimes are organized along parliamentary lines in accordance with the Westminster model. Such democratic regimes are to be forum in United Kingdom, New Zealand, Australia, Canada and Israel. Some of the significant features these regimes share are single party government, a simple plurality or first past the post electoral system, unitary or quasi-federal government legislative supremacy, etc.
The pluralist democratic regimes based on the US model represent the separation of power and checks and balance. The provisions of the Constitution allow institutional fragmentation. The states like Netherlands, Belgium, Austria and Switzerland which are divided by deep religious, ideological, regional, linguistic and cultural diversities have adopted such regimes which are also called the convocational democratic regimes.
These regimes promote the value of bargaining and power sharing which can ensure consensus. The common features these regimes share are coalition Government, a separation of power between the legislature and executive, an effective bicameral system, a multiparty system, Proportional representation, federalism or devolution of political power, a Bill of rights, etc.