Asia's dysfunctional democracies - The Nation, September 6, 2004
...Voters there may also extend a disturbing
paradox that has emerged in the region: the
more vigorous Asian democracy becomes,
the more dysfunctional it is...
Indeed, the precedents of democratic immobility
in Asia are hardly encouraging. For example,
since Pakistans creation in 1947, partisan
divisions have ensured that no elected government
has been able to serve its full term. So Pakistanis
have grimly accepted military rule as their
destiny. The problem in Asia often arises from
something the French call cohabitation
an awkward arrangement by which a directly
elected president must co-exist with a parliament
controlled by a rival party or parties...
True, Asian democracies, however unstable, are
preferable to autocracies, whether military,
as in Pakistan and Burma, or communist, as in
China and Vietnam. But the danger in a weakened
democracy is not merely blocked legislation
and ineffective government...