Challenges and Outlook to Asian Social Democracy
After an encouraging surge of democratic mobilization across Asia in recent years -- with the Malaysian opposition making massive electoral gains, Indonesia electing a grass-roots-driven president, and Myanmar’s junta ceding more power to the elected, civilian leadership -- a combination of authoritarianism and right-wing populism is besetting Asia’s most promising democracies, from India to the Philippines.
Over the past decade, Asia has maintained robust economic growth rates, giving birth to a rising middle class. Resource-based nations such as Mongolia have been among the world’s fastest growing economies, while Japan, South Korea, and China have maintained their lead in the global electronics, steel, and machinery market. New tiger economies such the Philippines have dispensed with their age-old image as ‘sick man of Asia’ by registering among the highest growth rates in the region and the world. Despite these changes, growing income inequality, wide-scale degradation of the environment, and deepening sense of insecurity and income uncertainty among a significant section of societies across Asia persist. These internal contradictions in Asian economies have empowered outside the box political figures, who have effectively tapped into the grievance and frustrations of the populace.
The conference brought together social democratic party representatives, policy makers and activists from across Asia to discuss these common and emerging challenges. It provided a platform to assess the current political trends and to tackle policy responses designed to regain the discourse about social justice, sustainable development and progressive politics in the region.