Democracy Assistance: Political vs. Developmental?

Issue Date January 2009
Volume 20
Issue 1
Page Numbers 5-19
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Two distinct approaches to international democracy assistance have emerged in recent years: the political approach and the developmental approach. They vary with respect to their underlying conceptions of democracy and democratization and their methods and areas of focus. U.S. democracy promotion makes use of both approaches; European democracy support efforts largely favor the developmental approach. Neither approach is necessarily preferable overall; both have multiple strengths and weaknesses. The existence of two core approaches is evidence that democracy aid is diversifying to adapt to a more challenging international political landscape.

About the Author

Thomas Carothers is the Harvey V. Fineberg Chair and director of the Democracy, Conflict, and Governance Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. His most recent book is Democracies Divided: The Global Challenge of Political Polarization (2019, coedited with Andrew O’Donohue).

View all work by Thomas Carothers