Democracy assistance has little chance of being effective without the carrot and stick of conditionality?


Definition carrot and stick: Strategy often used in negotiations where one side offers the other something it wants while threatening negative sanctions if the other side does not comply with its requests.

Ever since the fall of the Berlin Wall, there has been confusion for disagreement over the primary purpose(s) of political strategies of external support for democratization and their theoretical justification. Carothers’ idea of a ‘‘democracy template’’ (1999:88) comprising electoral process, state institutions, and civil society, reflecting an idealized view of U.S. liberal democracy arranges the typical components of conventional democracy support. First, there are goals for each of these three ‘‘sectors,’’ such as free and fair elections, and then individual forms of assistance, for example; international election observation. The simplest strategy for support refers to choices among these three sectors and their components.[1]

Democratization assistance is an established and growing industry. Yet, in a survey of 40 democracies; efforts to protect and promote democracy abroad, only three countries (Canada, the Netherlands, and Sweden) were rated ‘‘very good’’[2]. Thus, it seems there is scope to do better. In contrast, two problematic aspects of democratization after intervention are the regional environment of the new democracies and the economic structure of the country. Several empirical studies indicate that the prospects for democracy are worse for countries that are located in non-democratic neighbourhoods [3] and that stable democracy is less likely in poor or oil-dependent countries.[4]

Conditionality can be defined as an agreement between two actors, in which actor 1 offers a reward to actor 2. This reward is granted if actor 2 fulfils certain conditions. In case the conditions are not met by actor 2 the reward is simply withheld (positive conditionality) or punishment follows (negative conditionality). To exert conditionality as a reward-based policy between two actors, asymmetric negotiation power has to be in place. This means that actor 1 has to be able to offer attractive incentives which actor 2 wants to have and cannot achieve easily. When analyzing social interaction from an incentives- and interest-based position, conditionality is first of all understood as a mode of action. Additionally, it can be used purposely as a political strategy to apply a reward-based policy between two political actors and to institutionalize asymmetric interaction. In this case, conditionality can be used to promote democracy by combining attractive rewards with certain conditions of democratic development.

European Union

The prospect of European Union (EU) membership is often considered the most successful instrument for the promotion of democracy in post-communist countries. We can observe that all post-communist members of the EU are now more or less consolidated democracies, as all post-communist countries outside the EU are still on a path between open authoritarianism and hybrid regimes. As the democratization of non-Member States is both a normative and strategic aim of the EU, democracy promotion is a main element of its foreign policy. It is reflected in its relations with third countries in general,particularly through the European Neighbourhood Policy. The ENP was designed in 2003 to “prevent the emergence of new dividing lines between the enlarged EU and its neighbours and to offer them the chance to participate in various EU activities, through greater political, security, economic and cultural co-operation.” At the same time, the prospect of membership for countries is restricted by the EU’s limited capacity for further enlargement due to its fear of internal efficiency problems in an enlarged Union. Thus, policymakers have to think about alternative integration models, keeping in mind the normative and strategic aim of the EU to promote democracy and ensure stability, peace and prosperity in third countries, especially as countries like Ukraine, Georgia or Moldova demand a membership perspective and have, according to Art. 49 TEU, a formal right to apply for membership.

Conditionality serves in this context both as a promising tool of the EU to promote democracy and a theoretical framework to explain causalities between the prospect of EU membership and a successful democratization process in the target country.As conditionality is based on a “carrot and stick” mechanism, the membership perspective is assumed to be the only attractive “stick”. Following this assumption, critics argue that the European Neighbourhood Policy cannot provide attractive incentives without offering a membership perspective. In this case is to believe that: yes, Democracy assistance has little chance of being effective without the carrot and stick of conditionality. At least inside the EU scope

[1] Peter Burnell; Political Strategies of External Support for Democratization (BB).

[2] (Democracy Coalition Project 2002).

[3]Gleditsch & Ward, 2006; Gates et al., 2007

[4] Carlsen & Hegre, 2007; Epstein et al.,2006; Gates et al., 2006; Przeworski et al., 2000; Ross, 2001.




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