Power, Conflict and Democracy: the Analytical Framework

Olle Törnquist
Journal article PCD Journal • 2009 Brazil

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(English, 20 pages)

Abstract

The point of departure for the Power, Conflict and Democracy Programme (PCD) is the critique of the two conventional explanations for the problems of democratisation in the global South for being empirically mistaken and based on narrow and static theory.2 We argue that the root causes for the crisis of democratisation are neither poor application of the mainstream model (emphasising elitist pacts and institution-building in return for more privatisation and self management), nor that democracy is premature due the lack of sufficient preconditions. Rather, the more fundamental dilemma is the depoliticisation of democracy and the fact that the paradigms are unable to conceptualise the problems and options involved. This inability is because the proponents of both the dominant arguments agree on a narrow definition of democracy in terms of freedoms and fair elections – and then either neglect the basic conditions or say they have to be created beforehand by other means. The result is that both paradigms exclude by definition approaches that focus less on democratic rules of the game in themselves and more on how these institutions may be used and expanded in favour of improved social, economic and other conditions. Given that such social democratic oriented paths have been quite important, especially in the transition of the previously poor Scandinavian countries into welfare states, and that adapted versions are now gaining ground in paradigmatic cases such as Brazil, there is an obvious need to widen the perspective.

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