Emerging democracies - rising to the challenge | Briefing

Are wealthy countries wealthy because they are developed, or because they are democratic? This ODI Briefing investigates this key question, outlining how emerging democracies can deliver for developing countries – despite the messy, complex, and uncertain processes involved in their consolidation.

Launching of DRA in El Fasher. Flickr, Albert Gonzalez Farran/UNAMID

Policy recommendations

  • While there is a strong relationship between high levels of wealth and established democracy, it is far less clear whether wealthy countries are wealthy because they are developed or because they are democratic.
  • Nevertheless, most countries across the developing world today are formal, if highly imperfect, democracies – so the real question is no longer whether they can deliver, but how they can do so.
  • The process of consolidating a democracy is messy, complex, and uncertain, and miracles should not be expected overnight. Engaging with emerging democracies more effectively is, therefore, the new frontier of the developmental challenge.
  • More effective engagement calls for flexible and adaptable approaches that are grounded in contextual realities. This requires strategic patience and a pragmatic, incremental perspective to institutional reform that is more tolerant of risks and setbacks.

Download the ODI Briefing for a full overview (PDF)


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