A comparative analysis of financial globalization: Financial market opening, social safety net, and democratic consolidation in South Korea, Russia, Thailand, and Brazil
This research identified and explored the relationship between financial globalization and democratization in the cases of South Korea, Thailand, Brazil and Russia. Faced with huge capital mobility and financial crisis in 1997 and 1998, the state has lost some of its autonomy for deciding economic policies, and became vulnerable to volatility in international capital flows. How the financial globalization environment impacted the democratization process in the four cases is the focal point of this study. This research yields the finding that those governments---which pay attention to social safety net policies---have also improved political rights and civil liberties as well as democratic consolidation. The case of Russia shows that the political rights and civil liberties deteriorated while the government social expenditure also diminished. This study shows that various factors must converge to achieve a consolidated democracy. Efficient social safety net policies are a necessary (but not solely sufficient) condition to reach the goal, especially when countries are stressed by a situation as urgent as the 1997--1998 financial crisis. Whatever the economic situation, the polities of the countries in this study swing between political right and left; however, the pendulum seems to orient itself toward social democracy in the short run for those developing countries with democracies in transition. Those countries in transitional states of financial globalization and democratic consolidation are subject to multiple pressures from domestic and global forces. They will have to carefully balance growth and equity to internalize the attitude, behavior, and psychology of liberal democracy in order to complete these transitions at minimum cost to their societies.