August 19, 2016

Good governance versus democratic governance

As argued by the neoliberals, good governance depends on marketisation to promote efficiency and overcome corruption. The definition of good governance is extended by the neoliberals to incorporate the diversified democratic principles and practices. They often suggest that principles like freedom and choice are served better by market mechanisms than by voting. Such being the case, the first wave of reforms attempted to roll back the state by means of contracting out and privatisation. Neoliberals, in general, contend that the new public management (NPM) is an example of good governance. In contrast, their critics highlight a tension between NPM and democratic ideas. In the view of the critics, when the state contact out, it lost the ability to administer and control public sector activities. The second wave also seems to have been driven fundamentally by ideas of promoting efficiency. Its advocates did not reject marketization but they really emphasise networks, partnership, and joined-up governance. Nevertheless, some critics argue that the reforms undermine democracy. In their opinion, the reforms are creating a system of governance that is too complicated for proper, meaningful accountability. Even policy actors whose main concern is efficiency are troubled by the thoughts that falling rates of participation and civic engagement point to a decline in legitimacy that ultimately will undermine the effectiveness of public policy.
It is worth nothing that, there is no unanimous agreement on how to reconcile representative democracy with the new governance. It has, therefore, become important to understand the concept of democratic governance, a condition under which the promise of justice, liberty and equality is realised in a democratic political framework, where the government is sensitive to the people’s identities, aspirations and needs and where people feel secure and contended. In a nutshell, democratic governance can be understood as the capacity of a society to define and establish policies and solve their conflicts in a peaceful manner and within the framework of law.


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