Transformation Index BTI 2012: Regional Findings Asia and Oceania -  - ebook

Transformation Index BTI 2012: Regional Findings Asia and Oceania ebook

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Der politische und wirtschaftliche Entwicklungsstand eines Landes ist messbar: Im internationalen Vergleich lassen sich die Leistungen politischer Entscheidungsträger und die daraus resultierenden Transformationsprozesse gegenüberstellen. Den Entwicklungsstand in 128 Entwicklungs- und Transformationsländern dokumentiert die Bertelsmann Stiftung alle zwei Jahre in ihrem Transformationsindex: Anhand ausführlicher Ländergutachten beleuchtet der Index die Wirkung von Reformstrategien auf dem Weg zu rechtsstaatlicher Demokratie und sozialer Marktwirtschaft. Er gibt damit Akteuren in Politik, Wirtschaft, Gesellschaft und Wissenschaft wichtige Hinweise und Impulse für ihre Arbeit. Der Untersuchungszeitraum des "Transformationsindex BTI 2012" reicht vom Frühjahr 2009 bis zum Frühjahr 2011. Die sieben ergänzenden Materialbände "Regional Findings" beinhalten die ausführlichen englischsprachigen Regionalüberblicke und Langfassungen der Länderberichte zu den sieben untersuchten Regionen: Ostmittel- und Südosteuropa; Lateinamerika und Karibik; West- und Zentralafrika; Naher Osten und Nordafrika; Östliches und südliches Afrika; Postsowjetisches Eurasien; Asien und Ozeanien. The peaceful transition of authoritarian regimes towards democracy and a market economy poses enormous challenges for citizens and politicians alike. Around the world, under widely differing conditions and with varying degrees of success, reform-oriented groups are struggling to democratize their countries and to strengthen the market economy. Good governance is the decisive factor for the success or failure of any transition process. The Bertelsmann Stiftung's Transformation Index is published every two years. The global ranking measures and compares transition processes worldwide on the basis of detailed country reports. Comparing systematically the status of democracy and market economy on an international basis, the BTI also provides comprehensive data on the quality of p

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Bibliographic information published by the Deutsche Nationalbibliothek
The Deutsche Nationalbibliothek lists this publication in theDeutsche Nationalbibliografie; detailed bibliographic datais available on the Internet at http://dnb.d-nb.de.
© 2012 E-Book-Ausgabe (EPUB)
© E-Book Edition 2012 Verlag Bertelsmann Stiftung, Gütersloh
Responsible: Matthias JägerProduction editor: Christiane RaffelCover illustration: Getty Images; kopfstand GbR, Bielefeld
ISBN : 978-3-86793-457-2
www.bertelsmann-stiftung.org/publications

www.bertelsmann-stiftung.de/verlag

Table of Contents
Title Page
Copyright Page
BTI 2012 | Regional Findings - Asia and Oceania
Political transformation
Economic transformation
Transformation management
Outlook
References
BTI 2012 | Afghanistan Country Report
Executive Summary
History and Characteristics of Transformation
Transformation Status
Transformation Management
Strategic Outlook
BTI 2012 | Bangladesh Country Report
Executive Summary
History and Characteristics of Transformation
Transformation Status
Transformation Management
Strategic Outlook
BTI 2012 | Bhutan Country Report
Executive Summary
History and Characteristics of Transformation
Transformation Status
Transformation Management
Strategic Outlook
BTI 2012 | Cambodia Country Report
Executive Summary
History and Characteristics of Transformation
Transformation Status
Transformation Management
Strategic Outlook
BTI 2012 | China Country Report
Executive Summary
History and Characteristics of Transformation
Transformation Status
Transformation Management
Strategic Outlook
BTI 2012 | India Country Report
Executive Summary
History and Characteristics of Transformation
Transformation Status
Transformation Management
Strategic Outlook
BTI 2012 | Indonesia Country Report
Executive Summary
History and Characteristics of Transformation
Transformation Status
Transformation Management
Strategic Outlook
BTI 2012 | Laos Country Report
Executive Summary
History and Characteristics of Transformation
Transformation Status
Transformation Management
Strategic Outlook
BTI 2012 | Malaysia Country Report
Executive Summary
History and Characteristics of Transformation
Transformation Status
Transformation Management
Strategic Outlook
BTI 2012 | Myanmar Country Report
Executive Summary
History and Characteristics of Transformation
Transformation Status
Transformation Management
Strategic Outlook
BTI 2012 | Nepal Country Report
Executive Summary
History and Characteristics of Transformation
Transformation Status
Transformation Management
Strategic Outlook
BTI 2012 | North Korea Country Report
Executive Summary
History and Characteristics of Transformation
Transformation Status
Transformation Management
Strategic Outlook
BTI 2012 | Pakistan Country Report
Executive Summary
History and Characteristics of Transformation
Transformation Status
Transformation Management
Strategic Outlook
BTI 2012 | Papua New Guinea Country Report
Executive Summary
History and Characteristics of Transformation
Transformation Status
Transformation Management
Strategic Outlook
BTI 2012 | Philippines Country Report
Executive Summary
History and Characteristics of Transformation
Transformation Status
Transformation Management
Strategic Outlook
BTI 2012 | Singapore Country Report
Executive Summary
History and Characteristics of Transformation
Transformation Status
Transformation Management
Strategic Outlook
BTI 2012 | South Korea Country Report
Executive Summary
History and Characteristics of Transformation
Transformation Status
Transformation Management
Strategic Outlook
BTI 2012 | Sri Lanka Country Report
Executive Summary
History and Characteristics of Transformation
Transformation Status
Transformation Management
Strategic Outlook
BTI 2012 | Taiwan Country Report
Executive Summary
History and Characteristics of Transformation
Transformation Status
Transformation Management
Strategic Outlook
BTI 2012 | Thailand Country Report
Executive Summary
History and Characteristics of Transformation
Transformation Status
Transformation Management
Strategic Outlook
BTI 2012 | Vietnam Country Report
Executive Summary
History and Characteristics of Transformation
Transformation Status
Transformation Management
Strategic Outlook
BTI 2012 | Regional Findings
Asia and Oceania
By Aurel Croissant1
An overview of transformation and development in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, North Korea, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.
This report presents the regional findings of the Bertelsmann Stiftung’s Transformation Index (BTI) 2012 for Asia and Oceania. More on the BTI at http://www.bti-project.org.
By population size, geographic area and aggregate GDP of the 21 surveyed countries, Asia and Oceania is the largest region in the Bertelsmann Stiftung‟s Transformation Index (BTI). It is also the survey‟s most heterogeneous unit of analysis in terms of social and economic development levels, sociocultural diversity and variance in states‟ forms of political organization.
Within Asian regional studies, it is customary to distinguish four subregions on the basis of geographical proximity, but also with reference to sociocultural, political and historical lines of division. These include: 1) Northeast Asia, with the two Koreas, the People‟s Republic of China and Taiwan (as well as Japan, which is not examined in the BTI); 2) Southeast Asia, which includes the 10 member states (excepting Brunei) of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), as well as East Timor (also not included in the survey); 3) South Asia, which includes the five states of the Indian subcontinent plus Afghanistan and Sri Lanka; and 4) Oceania and a large number of small island states in the South Pacific, among which only Papua New Guinea is represented in the BTI.
This distinction is more than simply a consequence of the difficulties faced by scholars in the social sciences, humanities and cultural studies in creating a meaningful unit of observation, given the great diversity of the region. As findings from surveys including the BTI show, these differentiations also make sense in terms of both transformation theory and practice. Referencing these subregions allows us to identify patterns, trends, differences and similarities which might otherwise be lost in the generalizations. For this reason, the following presentation of the BTI findings for the 2009 – 2011 period will be guided at least loosely by this division.
Overall, in each of the three dimensions of the BTI assessments of the state of political and economic transformation and the transformation management, there is one core finding to be highlighted.
In the dimension of political transformation, it is the “hybridization” of political regimes which stands out. This phenomenon refers to the combination of democratic and autocratic institutions, procedures and practices, a mix that characterizes the political systems of many South and Southeast Asian countries. Minor changes in the scores for the individual criteria within this dimension have led in some cases to an overall decline in the level of democracy, as in Sri Lanka and Thailand, or alternately to small improvements, as in the Philippines. In some instances, such changes have even driven shifts in a given country‟s regime classification. However, abstracting from these more or less small fluctuations, the majority of states considered here are stuck in the gray zone between dictatorship and democracy. In comparison, the number of unambiguously authoritarian states or functional (“liberal”) democracies is rather small.
In terms of economic transformation, the effects of the global financial and economic crisis clearly did not cause lasting disruptions to regional development during the observation period. One reason for this was the successful adjustment strategies pursued by a number of Asian governments (i.e., South Korea, Taiwan, China), but many also benefited indirectly from China‟s economic strength. Overall, 16 of the 21 economies in Asia and Oceania were able to make some progress in their transformation towards a fully functioning market economy, or at least retain the transformation status of the previous period. China, Vietnam, India and increasingly Indonesia serve as recent examples of dynamic economic reform and successful management of economic transformation within Asia. In stark contrast stand North Korea and Myanmar. In these two countries, decision makers have refused to engage in a fundamental transformation of their economic systems. Here, the economic plundering of society is not only accepted as a consequence but is a necessary condition for the continuation of the autocratic order.
The perception of Asia as the world‟s most dynamic region in terms of growth and development, common among policymakers, the media and the public in the West, is indeed justified, though it depends to a significant extent on a selective perception of development trends, particularly in China and India. However, economic transformation in the context of the BTI is defined in broader terms. It means, therefore, more than simply high growth rates. When components of economic transformation having to do with social policies or regulatory institutions are considered, countries such as China, India and Vietnam show significant shortcomings and structural vulnerabilities despite their remarkable economic growth rates.
Finally, a number of states show clear changes in terms of management quality relative to the BTI 2010. Management performance has deteriorated significantly over the past two years in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Papua New Guinea and Thailand, but has improved in Taiwan and the Philippines.
Given the considerable steering successes of the “authoritarian development projects” in China, Vietnam and Singapore in recent years and decades, these are increasingly perceived as an alternative model of development within the region and beyond. These cases seem to have succeeded in guaranteeing political stability and facilitating an economic boom, whereas many democracies in the region have been subject to crises of function, performance and trust China and Vietnam pursue a sequential and incremental transformation strategy by which the gains associated with social and economic modernization remain unequally distributed, but nevertheless reach broad segments of the population – unlike, for example, in most Latin American countries, which are characterized by socially unjust mechanisms for the distribution of opportunities in life. The distinctive feature of “developmental dictatorships” in Asia thus lies not only in the generation of rapid growth and its consequences, which in China have included a 20-fold increase in per capita income in just a few decades (UNDP 2011) but also in the fact that these states are able to produce a comparatively large volume of public goods despite the limitations inherent to autocratic rule.. Measured by the criteria and findings of the BTI 2012, however, the autocracies show only mediocre performance. To some small extent, this is because the BTI‟s assessment of governance capability, which makes up a quarter of the overall assessment of management, is oriented toward a model based on the principles of democracy under the rule of law and a socially just market economy. However, the management strategies of Chinese, Vietnamese and Singaporean decision makers are designed to combine autocratic rule with capitalist development. The authoritarian character of the regimes negatively affects the evaluation of consensus-building, particularly with respect to the involvement of civil society in political decision-making processes. But even on the “system-neutral” individual questions dealing with resource efficiency or anti-corruption efforts, the authoritarian regimes overall achieve below-average values, with even China and Vietnam showing only average performance at best.
In assessing the state of development, the fact that the institutions of rule of law remain underdeveloped and serve largely to provide security to investments becomes important. Even in Singapore, which for a non-liberal political system (according to international comparative research, including the BTI) shows surprisingly high scores for the rule of law, this is strictly speaking a “rule of law for elites” (North/Wallis/Weingast 2011). Little value is placed upon guaranteeing citizens opportunities for political participation, or even on upholding basic civil rights.

Political transformation

Based on the criteria and findings of the BTI 2012, the group of fully functioning democracies consists of Taiwan, South Korea, and the borderline case of India. The latter two countries display numerous shortcomings in terms of a democracy under the rule of law, as evidenced by the fact that India attains the highest possible score on only two of the 18 relevant questions, and South Korea on only five. However, these democracies can be considered to be consolidated. In South Korea, the quality of democracy has declined somewhat compared to the BTI 2010, largely due to deterioration in the freedoms of association and expression. Taiwan‟s political system has been able to substantially improve its top ranking in terms of democracy in both regional and interregional rankings. Taiwan can therefore rightly be regarded as a successful democratic alternative to the authoritarian model of development on the mainland.
Table 1: State of political transformation
The second group of defective democracies consists of Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Bangladesh and the Philippines. While in Indonesia, some progress in democratic transformation is evident, the position of the Philippines has improved, following a worrying trend of erosion of democratic standards under the Macapagal-Arroyo regime (2001 – 2010). But even a quarter-century after the downfall of the Marcos dictatorship (February 1986), democracy remains fragile and unconsolidated. Elections for congress and the presidency are regularly conducted, and political parties can organize and compete for votes. Political transformation has also enabled a dynamic range of associations, a diverse media landscape and democratic decentralization. However, the record of President Benigno Aquino III‟s government, in power since June 2010, has also been tarnished by human rights violations and corruption (Croissant 2012). In addition, political institutions have little capacity to solve political problems efficiently and effectively. The real center of political power lies with the well-established elite, whose political activity lies largely outside any mechanisms of social accountability or democratic oversight as wielded by broad segments of the population. These elites are above the law and are largely responsible for the dysfunctionality of state institutions and democratic processes.
Particularly strong are the defects of the democratic transformation Nepal and Sri Lanka, where a marked deterioration in the democracy status score can be noted. The case of Thailand, which in this edition of the BTI is no longer classified as democratic, is even clearer. This change has been driven by a number of factors, including the violent crackdown on protests in the capital of Bangkok in the spring of 2010; the massive restrictions imposed on media freedom and the freedoms of expression and assembly; and the broad-ranging political powers possessed by the military and other institutions lacking democratic legitimacy, such as the privy council and the monarchy. The elections of June 2011, which were won by the main opposition party close to the ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, have again demonstrated the deep divisions in the society, with strong support for Thaksin and the “red-shirt movement” particularly among rural voters in the northeast. In addition, for the first time in the country‟s recent history, the role of the monarchy – as an institution, as a power center, and even the person of the king himself – is being increasingly questioned (Croissant 2012).
In Cambodia and Malaysia, a hardening of the autocratic order was evident. In Cambodia, the relatively low level of political violence can be attributed to the fact that the ruling Cambodian People‟s Party, led by Prime Minister Hun Sen, is no longer reliant on brute force to control dissidents and opposition, but rather uses a “calibrated repression” (Schedler) to secure its de facto one-party rule. In Malaysia too, despite the rhetoric employed by Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak‟s government (in power since 2009), few steps toward liberalization and the strengthening of the rule of law have been evident. To be sure, some new measures aimed at controlling corruption have been successfully implemented; however, the scope of activity permitted to opposition and civil society groups has not expanded – an appraisal confirmed by the violent police actions against the mass protests in favor of electoral reform in July 2011.
Bhutan and Pakistan, despite having elected parliaments and civilian governments, continue to be classified as moderate autocracies because institutions and authorities lacking democratic legitimacy (such as the monarchy or military) have in both countries access to broad-ranging prerogatives, veto powers and political privileges. North Korea and Myanmar again are at the bottom of the regional ranking in political transformation. This assessment remains unchanged by the November 2010 parliamentary elections in Myanmar, the first such in 20 years. These polls, controlled by the Burmese military, in no way fulfilled minimum democratic standards, and served primarily as a means of legitimizing existing power relationships. Until the end of the review period (February 2011), the generals were still in complete control of the political process.
In comparing the development of different criteria of political transformation with the previous assessment period, regional strengths and weaknesses become evident. The region performs best on the measure of stateness. This corresponds with the established view that in Asia, and particularly East Asia, traditions of strong stateness with roots stretching far back in political history have survived into the present. These traditions represent a valuable resource for political, economic and societal actors.
At the same time, the low scores on the criterion measuring the stability of democratic institutions in the regionreflect not only the lack of such institutions in authoritarian states such as China, Myanmar, North Korea, Vietnam and Laos, but also their weaknesses in the region‟s “hybrid regimes” and many new democracies. The rule of law also remains a weak area, particularly the prevention and prosecution of office abuse, although it should be noted that the majority of states in the region in fact perform well on this measure in comparison to states at the same income level in other regions (see Peerenboom 2006). This is in turn associated with the often well-developed stateness and the efficiency of state institutions, as well as with the previously mentioned phenomenon of the rule of law for elites.
Figure 1: State of political transformation by individual criteria
In this regard, a quick glance at individual subregions in Asia is illuminating. In terms of stateness, the stability of democratic institutions and the rule of law, Northeast Asia clearly performs better than South and Southeast Asia. However, this reflects to some extent the well-advanced state of democratic transformation in Taiwan and South Korea. As in the BTI 2010, Southeast Asia is more or less clearly behind the other regions in four of the five assessment criteria. Stateness is the single exception.
Figure 2: State of political transformation by subregion

Economic transformation

Like the state of democratic transformation, the level of development of the economic transformation of Asia and Oceania varies greatly. On the basis of the BTI criteria, five categories of cases can be identified. Developed market economies with functional regulatory regimes exist in South Korea, Singapore and Taiwan. These three countries also occupy top places in the BTI 2012 overall rankings. Here, economic “transformation” has reached a level comparable with that of the core group of established OECD countries, even exceeding this in some areas (see Bertelsmann Stiftung 2011). In Malaysia we find a functioning market economy (albeit with weakly anchored rules of competition and market regulation) that suffers shortcomings in terms of performance and sustainability. The largest group is that of market economies with functional flaws (nine countries), followed by the five countries with poorly functioning market economies. Bringing up the rear, as in the BTI 2010, are Afghanistan, Myanmar and North Korea.
Table 2: State of economic transformation
Although no shifts between categories took place, differences are evident between countries that maintained a relatively constant level of development and transformation, systems that demonstrated significant improvements in terms of economic transformation (a gain of at least 0.25 points for this dimension in the two years of the assessment period), and countries in which the level of economic performance and economic reform activity clearly eroded (a decline of 0.25 points or more). The first group includes a total of 14 countries. The second group is comprised by Bhutan, China, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Vietnam. The third category consists of North Korea and the Philippines.
Researchers, policymakers and the Western public have focused particularly on economic transformation processes in China, India and Vietnam, all three dynamic and innovative systems that have very successfully managed the change from a planned economy or “mixed” economic system (in the case of India) to a market-based economic order. These states have shown impressive records of high growth and investment rates, strong innovation capabilities (particularly China), and improvements in social living conditions for broad segments of their population. Table 3 shows the state of economic transformation (and the change relative to the BTI 2010), as well as scores on the relevant seven criteria for these three states.
Table 3: State of economic transformation in China, India and Vietnam, overall and by criteria
The primary challenge faced by these three systems arguably remains that of counterbalancing the indirect social and political effects of growth and modernization, such as the growth of social inequality and regional developmental disparities. Social imbalances also pose a burden for political stability and economic growth, especially in China and Vietnam, which due to the authoritarian nature of their political systems, unlike India, lack democratic procedures and institutions of integration and consensus building.
The combination of reasonably functioning democratic structures and economic transformation is the real strength of India‟s transformation path. At the same time, however, in India, the social burden of development are significantly higher than in the two single-party dictatorships, and the economic transformation shows significantly lower performance levels in terms of central criteria of sustainability (including education) and socioeconomic development. For example, the share of the population that lives on less than $1.25 (PPP) per day is 16 percent in China and 22 percent in Vietnam, but 42 percent in India. In the Human Development Index, China (place 89) and Vietnam (place 115) are ranked significantly ahead of India (place 121; see UNDP 2011).
Overall, however, the findings of the BTI 2012 do not confirm the thesis of the “superiority” of autocratic regimes in generating successful economic transformation. The comparison between the two groups of democratic and autocratic regimes, rather, shows that democracies, on average, achieve higher values in all areas than autocratic regimes.
The general presumption that Asian autocracies possess a particularly strong economic performance capability (the “authoritarian developmental state”) applies only to Singapore, China, Vietnam and – to a limited extent – Malaysia. However, there is also a wide variety of different performance levels among the group of democratic countries.
Figure 3: State of economic transformation in democracies and autocracies, overall and by criteria
As in the previous assessment period, significant differences between subregions are evident in the BTI 2012. In all of the BTI criteria, Northeast Asia achieved the highest average scores, and South Asia the lowest.
Figure 4: State of economic development by subregion

Transformation management

With an average score of 4.70 points in the BTI 2012, the quality of transformation management in Asia and Oceania, is slightly lower than in 2010 (4.75). In interregional comparison, Asia thereby ranks behind West and Central Africa and South and East Africa. However, there are significant differences between countries and subregions. In some cases, management quality has declined considerably; this is particularly true in Thailand, but is also evident in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Papua New Guinea and Sri Lanka. With the exception of Papua New Guinea, this primarily reflects the limited ability of political elites and policymakers to build consensus, as well as the previously discussed crisis of “democratic governments” in defective democracies and hybrid regimes.
Taiwan and the Philippines are the only two cases showing an improvement of more than 0.3 points.
However, in the case of the Philippines, it should be noted that the political system excludes a very large proportion of the population from participation. The opportunities for acquiring political power are monopolized by the old, for many decades-dominant elites. This ensures, on the one hand, the durability and stability of democratic institutions, as these groups – which profit from the existing structures – are attentive to their observance and preservation. However, this also allows the elite to delay and block social reforms, particularly the long-demanded comprehensive land reform (Croissant 2012). The electoral victory of Benigno Aquino III, himself a product of the old sugar baron and large landowning class, illustrates the persistence of the “cacique democracy” reestablished after 1986.
Table 4: Quality of transformation management
The top group consists of two countries, South Korea and Taiwan, which showed very good performance in all four management criteria – steering capability, resource efficiency, consensus-building and international cooperation. However, South Korea‟s Lee government again showed a slight deterioration in terms of management performance in the 2009 – 2011 period. Political management in five countries is classified as good. India in particular shows less efficient resource use and weaker steering capability than do the members of the top group. In the areas of consensus-building, conflict management and international cooperation, Singapore demonstrates good to very good management performance. Regarding the efficient use of resources criterion, Singapore achieves even the highest score of all 128 countries in the BTI 2012. Decision makers in Indonesia and Bhutan have improved their performance, particularly in the areas of organizational capability and resource efficiency (Indonesia) and consensus (Bhutan).
Six countries exhibit a moderate management quality, among them China and Vietnam, two counties in which governments showed good to very good and innovative management performance in the economic arena, but at the same time (successfully) worked to counteract efforts targeting political liberalization or democratization within their societies. Overall, both countries show an above-average ability to build consensus and a high degree of international cooperation, compared to other autocracies, but attain only average or below-average results in the areas of resource efficiency (undermined particularly by corruption) and steering capability (also due to the authoritarian character of management).
In contrast, the management performances of political actors in Bangladesh, Papua New Guinea, Sri Lanka and Thailand were rated more poorly than was the case two years prior. Following the military victory over the Tamil insurgency in Sri Lanka‟s northern territories, President Rajapaksha‟s government has shown worrying authoritarian tendencies in the daily exercise of power.
In Thailand, political elites have demonstrated little ability to overcome the deep political and social cleavages within Thai society despite the return to a formally civilian government in December 2007. The country‟s internal political turmoil culminated in May 2010 in civil-war-like clashes between the so-called red shirts and the Thai military. In Bangladesh, hopes for a learning process following Bangladesh‟s return to a parliamentary system were dashed by the actions of opposing political camps. Rather than a moderation of political conflict, a relapse into the political culture of intolerance is to be feared.
States with weak transformation management include Cambodia, Laos, Pakistan, Nepal and Afghanistan, as well as – for the first time – Thailand. Particularly in Afghanistan, it is evident that policymakers are not following a consistent transformation policy in either the political or the economic field. As a result, the Karzai government is viewed less and less as a trustworthy international partner. In Nepal, ongoing political gridlock, a trend already noted in the previous edition of the BTI, continued. The perpetual crisis of government and governance, a state that has lasted since the overthrow of the monarchy (2007), has meant that urgently needed reforms have remained uninitiated, and that any short-term improvement in management performance is unlikely. In North Korea and Myanmar, no transformation management has taken place. Both countries are prime examples of the determination of autocrats to hold to power by any means, even if the price is the impoverishment of their own populations.
In comparing average management performance by regime type, it becomes evident that the scope of activity for the successful management of transformation processes is as a rule considerably narrower in autocratic systems than in democracies, due to a higher level of difficulty. Despite marked differences and individual exceptions (Singapore, Malaysia), a look at factors such as level of economic development, human capital resources, the intensity of ethnopolitical conflict and the (lack of) civil society traditions show the fundamental difficulties often faced by societies under autocratic rule.
Autocracies, like democracies, as a rule score best in the area of international cooperation. The two exceptions are North Korea and Myanmar. Despite the high social, political and economic heterogeneity of the region, most governments in Asia and Oceania find participation in international and regional organizations such as ASEAN, ASEM or APEC, as well as engagement in bilateral and multilateral cooperation with Western governments, to be an asset in terms of transformation management. In general, most violent conflicts in the region take place within rather than between states and international politics in the region is – considering the numerous unresolved border and territorial issue – remarkably peaceful. Thus, in the assessment period there was only one new interstate conflict, the border conflict between Thailand and Cambodia over an 11th century Hindu temple. The escalation of this dispute to the point of skirmishes between the troops of the two countries can be mainly attributed to domestic causes (Croissant and Chambers 2011). While tensions on the Korean peninsula threatened to escalate during the review period following the alleged sinking of a South Korean corvette by the North Korean navy and the shelling of a South Korean island by North Korean troops, the bilateral relationship between China and Taiwan under President Ma‟s government eased considerably, a development due in large part to the KMT government‟s new determination to avoid conflict on the issue of Taiwan‟s national independence.
Figure 5: State of transformation management by regime type
The biggest differences in management between autocracies and democracies areas are in consensus building and steering capability. These are also precisely the areas in which autocratic regimes score more poorly due to a restricted mode of transformation performance that lacks political opening as a goal (steering capability), and a ruling style that limits opportunities for participation (consensus building). However, democracies also perform more strongly in the “system neutral” area of effective resource use – in the overall criteria scores as well as on each individual question, from efficient use of assets to policy coordination through to anti-corruption policy. This is true even though the comparatively good use of resources in authoritarian systems such as Singapore and Malaysia raise the authoritarian group‟s average overall.
In many countries, difficulties in using resources effectively should also be seen in the context of an underdeveloped rule of law, which hinders the success of anti-corruption efforts. This remains a substantial obstacle to the realization of greater grains from transformation, particularly for states in the moderate category of management. In this group, the inefficient use of financial and human resources and governments‟ lack of coordination capacities become particular weaknesses. Often scarce public resources are distributed according to patronage considerations. Budget processes are not transparent. The military continues to devour a disproportionately large share of available resources. With the exception of Singapore and Taiwan, corruption is a defining feature of Asian countries‟ administrative and political cultures. The situation in South and Southeast Asia is particularly critical.
In this context, the question of a potential causal relationship between the form of political regime and socioeconomic development – a discussion which has engaged political science and development economics for decades, but declined in importance during the last wave of democratization – has received new impetus in recent years. Criticism of democratic models of society has increased in developing countries, not least as a kind of political collateral damage resulting from the global financial crisis and its roots in the West (Faust 2010).
Authoritarian regimes like China, Singapore and Vietnam would promise a steady, reliable course oriented toward overall economic development, and would be in a better position than democracies to act as agents of modernization and use their strong positions to overcome barriers to development (ibid). The comparison of defective democracies such as Bangladesh, Papua New Guinea and the Philippines with the abovementioned three autocracies might seem to support this interpretation. However, the weak management and transformation performances in North Korea, Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia can also be contrasted with the strategies and transformation outcomes in South Korea, Taiwan, India and Indonesia. This would in turn favor the thesis that incentives for political elites to make sufficient quantities of public goods available to their citizens are stronger in democracies than in autocracies (Bueno de Mesquita et al. 2003).

Outlook

Progress on the way toward democracy has become rare in Asia and Oceania in recent years. In most cases, political transformation towards democracy is evidently stagnating or even regressing. The primary problem has been the tenaciousness of “defects” already identified within young South and Southeast Asian democracies by earlier editions of the BTI, which in a number of countries have grown into crises of democracy. Troublesome too has been the considerable staying power of the extremely hardline autocracies such as Myanmar and North Korea. However, conditions even in the “moderate” or “soft” autocracies such as Singapore, Pakistan, Cambodia and Malaysia today promise little in the way of improvement in the rule of law. Moreover, fully half of the region‟s societies are autocratically governed. As in previous years, this gives the impression of a double divide, split along both political and economic lines: The stability of successful democracies (South Korea, Taiwan, India) and economically successful autocracies (above all China, Singapore, Vietnam) contrasts with the instability of political systems in the gray zone between democracy and dictatorship (Thailand, the Philippines, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Pakistan).
The perspective of economic transformation allows a more positive evaluation of the regional situation. The boom economies of China and Vietnam in particular have made progress. The core states regarded as part of the East Asian “economic miracle,” as well as India, are progressing along the path of market economic transformation. The transformation path in these countries has remained largely free of acute social conflicts. However, it is problematic that the substantial gap between the economically successful and less successful transformation countries has appeared to increase, as has that between the regions.
The reasons for this are manifold. Difficult structural conditions and geopolitical factors (Afghanistan, Pakistan) certainly play a role. However, the poor quality of political actors‟ transformation management is often more important. The obvious examples of this are North Korea and Myanmar, but Thailand and Sri Lanka, too, have evidenced such problems in the recent past. In countries such as Nepal, Papua New Guinea, Cambodia and Bangladesh, difficult framework conditions and political actors‟ reluctance to engage in reform serve as mutually reinforcing hindrances to transformation. On the other hand, Indonesia‟s experience shows that even under difficult conditions, political actors‟ actions can make a positive contribution to the development of democracy and the market economy.
Ultimately, the immense differences in socioeconomic performance and the quality of transformation management in the economic sphere, identified in the BTI 2012 and in earlier reporting periods, support the trenchant observation by Harvard economist Dani Rodik noting the untenability of the “authoritarian superiority” thesis: “For every authoritarian country that has managed to grow rapidly, there are several that have floundered. For every Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore, there are many like Mobutu Sese Seko of the Congo” (Rodrik 2010: 1).
The Asian “Mobutos” reside in Pyongyang, Phnom Penh and Nay Pyi Taw, the newly constructed capital of Myanmar. But the transformation results of governments in Dhaka, Islamabad and Vientiane are also far from impressive. In point of fact, a comparison of management performance in the region‟s democratic, “hybrid” and autocratic states over the past decade and in the BTI 2012 assessment period shows that the “successful” autocracies are clearly a minority. In essence, the empirical basis for the “myth” of the successfully modernizing “authoritarian model” (McFaul/Stoner-Weiss 2008) in Asia is reduced to just three cases: Singapore, Vietnam and China.
China in particular has pursued a very successful course of market reforms since the late 1970s, with high growth rates sustained across many years. Although the Communist Party is experimenting with democratic instruments at the local level, there is to date no indication that the party leadership would be willing to relinquish its hegemony and control over the political system. Human rights abuses, corruption and bureaucratic arbitrariness are integral elements in the political life of the People‟s Republic of China. Despite its widely admired successes, especially in the area of poverty reduction, China remains in many regions a comparatively poor and – from the perspective of the living conditions of the majority of its citizens – underdeveloped country. The country‟s future economic progress will depend in no small measure on whether the institutionalization of the rule of law and the separation between party and state institutions can be further advanced – thus, whether the Communist Party opens its political system to competition, much as it has already done in the economic realm (Rodrik 2010). Without this “dual” transformation, and the creation of institutions for the articulation, organization and integration of dissent, politically explosive social conflict may ultimately overwhelm the state‟s capabilities for integration and repression, thus impairing political stability as well as economic development.

References

Arugay, Aries A. “Saviors or Spoilers? Explaining “Civil Society Coups” in an Age of Democratization.” Paper presented at the 1st International Conference on International Relations and Development, Bangkok, Thailand, May 19 – 20, 2011.
Bertelsmann Stiftung (eds.). Sustainable Governance Indicators 2011. Policy Performance and Governance Capacities in the OECD. Gütersloh: Verlag Bertelsmann Stiftung, 2011.
Bueno de Mesquita, Bruce, Alastair Smith, Randolph M. Siverson and James D. Morrow. The Logic of Political Survival. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2003.
Croissant, Aurel. Politische Systeme in Südostasien. Wiesbaden: VS Verlag, forthcoming.
Croissant, Aurel, and Paul W. Chambers. “A Contested Site of Memory: The Preah Vihear Temple.” In Cultures and Globalization 4: Heritage, Memory, Identity, edited by Helmut Anheier, Raj Yudhishthir Isar. Los Angeles: Sage, 2011: 148 – 157.
Faust, Jörg. “Demokratie und Dividende: zum Mythos der wirtschaftlich ‘attraktiven Autokratien‟.” Internationale Politik 65 (3): 26 – 30, 2010.
McFaul, Michael, and Kathryn Stoner-Weiss. “The Myth of the Authoritarian Model. How Putin‟s Crackdown Holds Russia Back.” Foreign Affairs 87 (1): 68 – 84, 2008.
North, Douglass C., John J. Wallis, and Barry R. Weingast. Gewalt und Gesellschaftsordnungen. Eine Neudeutung der Staats- und Wirtschaftsgeschichte. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2011.
Peerenboom, Randall P. “An empirical overview of rights performance in Asia, France and the USA: The dominance of wealth in the interplay of economics, culture, law, and governance.” In Human Rights in Asia. A Comparative Legal Study of Twelve Jurisdictions, France and the USA, edited by: R.P. Peerenboom, Carole J. Petersen, and Albert H. Chen. London: Routledge, 2006.
Rodrik, Dani. “The Myth of Authoritarian Growth.” Project Syndicate, August 20, 2010. www.relooney.info/0_New_7905.pdf
UNDP. International Human Development Indicators. http://hdr.undp.org/en/data/profiles/
BTI 2012 | Afghanistan Country Report
Key Indicators
Sources: The World Bank, World Development Indicators 2011 | UNDP, Human Development Report 2011. Footnotes: (1) Average annual growth rate. (2) Gender Inequality Index (GII). (3) Percentage of population living on less than $2 a day.

Executive Summary

Political and economic transformation in Afghanistan is moving at a slow pace, hampered by a bleak security outlook and a resilient anti-government insurgency. There is increasing recognition that the Taliban and other anti-government elements cannot be conclusively defeated, and voices advocating negotiation with the Taliban are becoming louder. With the war entering now its 10th year, there is no sign of decisive military victory by the international forces fighting alongside the Afghan National Army against the strengthening insurgency. The level of violence has increased, and the security situation has deteriorated.
Afghanistan held its second presidential, provincial council and parliamentary elections in the years 2009 and 2010. Originally scheduled district council elections were not held. The voting process was overshadowed by irregularities and fraud, and the Independent Election Commission invalidated large numbers of votes. Corruption has spread to the point where it affects all institutions, which has led to a loss of public confidence in the government. Afghanistan was recently declared to be the second most corrupt country among a list of 180. As of the time of writing, the United States had announced that it would begin withdrawing troops from the country in July 2011. An enlarged Afghan National Army, currently numbering 134,000 individuals, is slated to take over security and defense tasks. This body’s ability to handle its new security responsibilities will become evident in 2011 – 2012.
Despite record GDP growth (22.5%) in 2009 – 2010, an increase in domestic revenue collection, improvements in education and an expansion in custom duties, nearly half of Afghanistan’s residents live on incomes under 120% of the poverty line. In real terms, poverty has increased and dependency on donor assistance has spiraled upward. Outside the area of education, almost all Human Development Index (HDI) indicators have deteriorated. Overall, the 2009 – 2011 period must be seen as further evidence of the highly complex nature of the state- and nation-building project in Afghanistan. Despite international engagement and the (presumable) desire of Afghan stakeholders (NGOs, some politicians, segments of the national political elite as represented in parliament and cabinet) to deepen and strengthen Afghanistan’s fragile democracy and expand the country’s still-limited market system, veto powers among formally pro-government forces as well as powerful actors outside the state administration and government remain strong.

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