The states of East and Southeast Asia constitute a fertile setting for exploring the links between political and economic development — subjects usually considered in isolation.
Democratization occurred, or was consolidated, in a number of these states in the early 1990s, but irrespective of the level of democratization, economic performance has been a primary source of political legitimacy in all states in this study. Yet the levels of development vary markedly. The Republic of Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore have progressively turned to technological innovation as the primary engine of development, while the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia have focused on incorporation in regional/global production systems.
In evaluating democratic development, the study focuses particularly on the condition of parties and party systems. In relation to economic governance, the idea of a developmental state provides a template against which the practices of individual states are evaluated.
The political and policy-making institutions within these states must now negotiate responses to the financial crisis of the late 1990s. Ultimate outcomes will be determined, on one hand, by the capacity of political systems to sustain popular support and, on the other, by the capacity of institutions to rework dysfunctional economic arrangements.
Ian Marsh is Associate Professor at the Australian Graduate School of Management, University of New South Wales. Jean Blondel is Professor of Political Science at the European University Institute, Florence. Takashi Inoguchi is Political Science Professor at the Institute of Oriental Culture, University of Tokyo