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Promoting Social Democratic Thinking, Alternatives and Practices

Quarterly

The Network publishes its own quarterly, Socdem Asia Quarterly, which aims to reflect the discourse of the Network and the leading intellectuals across the region and beyond about most pertinent developments of concern to social democrats. The Quarterly expounds on policies, perspectives and lessons learned from social democratic political practice in the region as well as reflections and experiences from Social Democrats worldwide. Along with Quarterly, the Socdem Asia website offers Op-Eds, interviews, and editorial opinions on latest developments across Asia-Pacific to a broader audience.

Asian Democratization and Its Discontents: The Quest for Substantive Democracy

With an increasing proportion of Asia-Pacific nations embracing elections as an arbiter of political competition, and a mechanism for selection of political leaders, there is a palpable sense that the march towards democracy is very much alive and kicking.

In an era where China and India are seeking to regain their historical position (prior to the 18th century) as the world’s largest economies, with other smaller Asian countries such as Vietnam and Philippines featuring among the fastest growing markets for decades to come, there is a glimmer of hope that prosperity and democratization could move hand in hand as we enter the so-called “Asian Century”. After all, history tells us that massive economic transformation could serve as a powerful precursor for political change, as a burgeoning middle class together with new centers of power demand for greater accountability and effective governance from the traditional center.

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Electoral Contestation and Political Transformation: Prospects for Progressive Change in Asia

The aftermath of the 2008 Great Recession, which brought many center-economies to the brink of another depression, witnessed an intense showdown between increasingly fragile elected-governments prioritizing the integrity of the financial system, on one hand, and scores of civic groups protesting austerity programs, on the other. But the dramatic explosion of protests against government policies, however, wasn't confined to the streets of New York, Athens, Rome, Paris, and Barcelona. After a decade of robust economic growth and rising inflow of foreign direct investment (FDI) into the Global South, the Great Recession proved to be truly global in its breadth and scale, as it shattered equity markets among developing countries, deepened the volatility of basic commodities' prices to the detriment of poorer countries, and steeply raised market uncertainty – reversing decades of hard-fought developmental gains. And for this reason, the world came to question the wisdom of unfettered market economics, anchored by finance-driven capitalism and light regulatory touch.

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