How is Democracy in Asia?

Illustration from a 1986 edition of ‘The Communist Manifesto’ published in the Soviet Union. | S.A. Geta / Progress Publishers

The data gathered in this blog are obtained with the use of the program, V-Dem Institute. The countries observed are the Philippines, South Korea, and Thailand. The countries are compared based on their practice of democracy that was measured through five V-Dem indices: deliberative, egalitarian, electoral, liberal, and participatory. The countries were chosen because there was a difference between power that will show the difference in their practice of democracy, each country has a long history with democracy, the kind of government they were once in, the oppression that each country has gone through because of their chosen leaders, and strictly follows this kind of government. Democracy simply is a method of group decision-making characterized by a kind of equality among the participants at an essential stage of collective decision-making (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2002). Democracy since the start of the pandemic has been tested numerous times because of the countless killings and unjust actions by the military and the government. This sparked the people to move on their own by doing peaceful protests if not possible face to face but with the use of social media.

Deliberative Democracy

Deliberative democracy or deliberative representation is all about taking voters closer to the affairs of government and decision-makers (citizens, residents, impacted people). Deliberative democracy emphasizes both the processing of knowledge (meaning/sense-making) and the exchange of information (information communication) and encourages people to critically test, weigh and contend with a plurality of points of view, inputs, and facts (Li and Lin, 2017). As seen in the graph below with deliberative democracy, it is seen that there was a significant increase in South Korea from the late 1980s to the early 1990s, and it continued to expand until 2007 when it did not improve that much until their drastic growth in 2017. Thailand, on the other hand, had a bumpy slope with falls in 1992, 2007, and a major downturn after 2012. Meanwhile, from the late 1980s, as seen from the after-effects of Martial Law, it rose in the Philippines and has since remained within the 0.5 axes. It can be considered that the higher the ranking, the more people in the country are involved in the decision-making of political topics and topics, but with a lower ranking, officials may be more responsible for the decision-making process.

V-dem data chart for Deliberative Democracy

Egalitarianism

In moral philosophy, Egalitarianism is a movement in thought. Equal rights favor equality of some kind: in certain ways, persons should be treated the same, or treated the same, or treated as equals. The alternative view refers to this last option: people should be equal, viewed as equal, treated as equal, or experience some sort of social status equality (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2002). Simply put, equalitarian democracy is where people’s freedom is characterized (Dworkin, 2000). In rivalry with Thailand and the Philippines, South Korea has a major distinction and is leading the way. It rose from 1986 to 1999 and remained stable until 2007, when it collapsed, but revived in 2017. Thailand has steadily grown over the years, except for 1992, 2006, and 2013. The Philippines has also grown steadily over the years, with a shift from 2009 to 2010 in a manner that is a product of the transfer of power from one administration to another.

V-dem data chart for Egalitarian Democracy

Electoral democracy

The limits of our current understanding of political government and governance are being moved forward by the Democratic Representative (Schattschneider, 1942). In the late 1980s, the Philippines saw a significant improvement in electoral independence due to the removal of the Marcos dictatorship and the restoration of order on the islands. Possibly deteriorated in the 2000s due to President Arroyo’s Hello Garci debacle, in which she was involved in an electoral fraud scandal that helped her win the 2004 elections (PhilLife, 2019). However, after her term, there was a rise, but also a marginal decrease, at the beginning of the Duterte administration in 2016. South Korea saw a big upsurge in the late 1980s, which continued to expand until 2008 when the Democrats lost the Conservative elections (Jansen, 2021). As seen from the 1992 Black May riots (Lohatepanont, 2017), the 2006 coup d’état that ousted Thai Prime Minister Thaksin (Abhasakun and Pajai, 2020) and the 2013–14 political chaos that ousted Thai Prime Minister Shinawatra (BBC News, 2014), Thailand has undergone significant increases and decreases over the years.

V-dem data chart for Electoral Democracy

Liberal Democracy

A democratic system of government in which individual rights and freedoms are officially acknowledged and safeguarded and the rule of law restricts the exercise of political power. The goal of liberal democracy is not to have unrestricted rights (Skąpska, 2001). South Korea has enjoyed its liberal democracy over the years, except in 2007, when it weakened but eventually resurrected in 2017. It also celebrated its liberal democracy in the Philippines, but collapsed in 2016, the beginning of the Duterte administration, at the same level as it did in the late 1980s. Under Duterte’s term in office, it can be heard that many breaches of human rights have been perpetrated by extrajudicial killings. And in Thailand, significant decreases occurred in 2006 and 2013 due to protests and the enforcement of martial law throughout the region (BBC News, 2014).

V-dem data chart for Liberal Democracy

Participatory Democracy

Participatory democracy is a collective decision-making process that incorporates elements of both direct and parliamentary democracy: voters have the right to vote on policy proposals, and representatives take the role of policy-makers (Aragonés, 2008). In the Philippines, the transition to modern government increased in the late 1980s and has somehow continued since then, with marginal changes throughout the 2000s. There have been developments in South Korea in the late 1980s and 1990s, but there has been a downturn in 2007. It eventually returned in 2017. In Thailand, meanwhile, it has the lowest of three due to several national uprisings and martial law enforcement, which has limited people’s participation in regional affairs.

V-dem data chart for Participatory Democracy

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