As more developing world countries are trying to democratize they are faced with an illegitimacy impediment, as they are unable to bring about change, the citizens have lost hope in democracy. A panel was held by the Woodrow Wilson Institute to discuss the book “Building Stronger Democracies in the 21 Century” with its authors: Thomas Edward Flores & Irfan Nooruddin. The book underlines the main reasons to why democracy has declined in the developing world.

The speakers believe that democracy in the developing world is in decline, not due to the elections or the election process but because of the aftermath.


The conclusions reached were the following:

  1. The democratic recession in the direct consequence of the electoral boom;
  2. Two shallow stocks in the countries are holding elections today;
  3. Democratic institutional legitimacy;
  4. Performance legitimacy (structural impediments).



The countries which started democratizing after the electoral boom arrived at the stage late. Most of the countries in question are part of the developing world with very low GDP. The main issue is that once a president comes in office, they are faced with a state that has close to no institutions and no budget to bring change. The state taxes are very low, because of the weak GDP, so the government does not have any money to bring about change.



  1. Spend foreign aid throughout the candidacy not only during the election year.
  2. Other countries should threaten to cut foreign aid in low integrity elections.



Thomas Edward Flores underlines the fact that foreign aid is used mainly in the year of the elections rather than throughout the candidacy. He recommends that if the funding was used throughout, the citizens would trust democracy more, and it would instill a stronger foundation.

Further, the speakers also point out, that the threat of cutting foreign aid budget is only used when convenient for the donor, not necessarily when it could come in more useful. He further suggests the central space in which these threats should take place is in the case of low integrity elections.


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Synthesis by: Patricia Besciu, all opinions are those of speakers, no personal ideas included.