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JSPES, Vol. 27, No. 2 (Summer 2002 )
p. 167-185

Classical and Liberal Democracy: Singapore and Jamaica

Herbert H. Werlin

Most writers on democracy (particularly, scholars and journalists) have only a liberal conception of democrac , emphasizing elections, multi-party systems, and majority rule. Classical democracy, on the other hand, refers to consensus-building (or statesmanship), which is essential for the development of the institutions required for effective liberal democracy. Political Elasticity (PE) theory is here introduced, enabling us to distinguish liberal and classical democracy and to explain why, while classical democracy is essential for socioeconomic development, liberal democracy may, not only be nonessential, but also counterproductive. A comparison of Singapore and Jamaica is put forward to illustrate this point. In so doing, I will also attempt to show that Lord Acton's assertion, "power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely," is not necessarily true inasmuch as Singapore (with a single-party system) is far less corrupt than Jamaica (with its two-party system). The implications of emphasizing classical, rather than liberal, democracy for improving foreign aid are presented at the conclusion.