Pushing Back the Frontiers of New Democracies? External Attempts at Democracy Promotion
Democracy promotion is a stream with many sources. Democracy promotion, like democracy itself, is more often an untidy and apparently irrational process, where it is difficult to avoid overlaps, contradictory policies, inconsistency and deviousness. Democratic openings are constrained by the limited capacities of many governments to carry out complex reforms, given their inadequate manpower, revenue and potential partners in civil society. The German stiftungen, acting as agencies of the main political parties, added an increasingly 'democratic' element to their long-standing development programmes, as did many Scandinavian nongovernmental organisations (NGOs). 'Pragmatists' may act out of varied degrees of idealism or self-interest, but see the scope for democracy promotion as constrained severely by the circumstances of time and place. Much Western democracy promotion is premised on the need for multiparty competition, but for donors to single out a particular party might be seen as interference in, rather than the promotion of, democracy.