Political instability and authoritarianism in South Asia

Abstract

This research builds on earlier research into the relationship between economic growth and authoritarianism and explores the factors leading to authoritarianism in South Asia. Research has uncovered a tendency toward authoritarianism accompanying an increase in economic growth in some South Asian countries. However, this trend only appears in countries suffering from political instability with rapid shifts into and back out of periods of authoritarian rule. On the other hand, India, pre-1983 Sri Lanka and post-2008 Nepal serve as counter-examples of established democracies demonstrating the benefits of political stability as well as providing a platform for development through the maintenance of open, democratic government and professionalised public service institutions. The isolated case in South Asia of Sri Lanka slipping from democracy to open anocracy post-1983, rather than authoritarianism, also demonstrates the benefit of nurturing democracy over the long term in support of the “J-curve Theory” put forth by Ian Bremmer. However, the same finding may also indicate that degrading institutions may lead to political instability that increases the likelihood that a state will fall into authoritarianism and a cycle of instability from which it is unlikely to escape. These findings indicate that the key for long-term sustainable growth and stability in the region is the maintenance of strong democratic institutions in order to create political stability

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