The elusive synthesis

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Ana Catalina García de Alba Díaz
Dr. Andrew Reynolds
POLI 891.012- Designing Democracy
January 18th, 2012
Summary Handout No.1

The Elusive Synthesis
General Overview
In his paper, Thomas Carothers addresses the relationship between development and democracy aid specialists, revisiting it in a chronological manner and anchoring its dynamics to the changing international context. He explores howthe relationship has evolved from mutual skepticism to close connectedness to each other. While democracy promoters are increasingly working alongside sector specific development programs, differences remain astringed when it comes to organizational, conceptual, methodological and psychological issues. Carothers further explains that the gap between the two areas began to decrease around the endof the Cold War, when the conclusion of the “geostrategic rivalry in the developing world fueled the expansion of democracy support by reducing sensitivities about cross-border political aid both within recipient societies and among Western policy actors.” (Carothers, 16) Donor organizations that used to focus exclusively on development issues started incorporating democracy programs into theirportfolios. Both, democracy promoters and developmentalists see the interconnectedness of good governance and the successful implementation/administration of development programs. Yet, despite the fact that throughout the past two decades specialists in both areas have seen the benefits of working side by side, they are both heavily aware of their different standing to the point that talking about atrue integration between both approaches seems farfetched. The author points out in a very concise manner, that even though bridges have been built, the integration is only partial and has shaky foundations.
Evolution of the relationship
The following chart attempts to summarize the main points in a section-by-section basis exploring both, the chronological and the comparative perspectivesembedded in the author’s argument.
Table 1: The evolution of the relationship
Development Aid | Timeline | Democracy Aid |
* Practitioners regarded democracy aid as a high-risk endeavor that implied politicizing aid. * Politicizing aid jeopardized the relationships fostered with governments in the developing countries. * Practitioners were also ambivalent about the value of democracy forfurthering development. * Most practitioners were uncomfortable with enhancing the presence of democracy within their work due to lack of knowledge. | 1980 Cold War Era: “Separation” This stage can be characterized by a generalized sense of separation between both approaches that implied differences in organizational, conceptual, methodological and psychological issues. | * Practitionersregarded democracy as the end not the means. * Democracy must be good for development: “All good things most go together” argument. * Practitioners were very skeptical of the operational habits of developmentalists qualifying them as risk-averse and slow-moving. * Practitioners in this field came from different professional backgrounds than that one of development. |
“The GovernanceBridge” * Developmentalists came to generally accept that governance in development countries is a valid and important concern and came to include it as a focus of socioeconomic aid. * Practitioners also came to recognize the negative consequences that a weak public sector has over development, acknowledging that market reform policies required competent state institutions to formulate and implementthese policies. * None the less, practitioners still avoided a direct political reference hence the governance programs were targeted at technocratic state institutions of the public-sector financial management and focusing on efficiency and competency. | 1990 Post-Cold War Era: “Inevitable Intersections”This stage can be characterized by the spread of democracy in Latin America, Central...
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