Effect of Democratization in Improving Living Standards
Democracy cannot exist without social justice, whereby citizens
feel that all their social and economic rights are protected. The
political dilemma in the Arab world, resulting from the absence
of political freedoms, has left very clear negative effects on society.
This dilemma has contributed significantly to the erosion of the
economic infrastructure of the Arab world, or has at least resulted
in a clear imbalance in the distribution of wealth and services.
The absence of political freedoms has also led to a decline in the
standard of living; increased poverty and unemployment rates; and
has diminished productivity and widened the gap between the various
It could be argued that political oppression leads to social
imbalance, the deterioration of the economy and the decay of the
social fabric. Furthermore, political oppression distorts the meaning
of good citizenship and its requirements as well as having a devastating
effect on the concept of national identity. The latter does not
seem able to withstand the consequences of political oppression
or repair its damages.
The important question here is whether democratization is the
solution to these problems?
In theory yes, but only if this transition is serious and clear.
It is possible to measure the success of the implementation of democratic
mechanisms in the extent to which these changes reflect positively
on the lives of ordinary people. These ordinary citizens do not
only seek political freedoms, but more importantly, the vast majority
also aims to improve their standard of living. Democratization will
become meaningless if unemployment and corruption continue and if
the standard of public services does not improve. This reveals a
serious problem underlying the political process itself and also
indicates an absence of the principles of transparency and accountability,
a weakness in the performance of the elected Legislative Authority
and the lack of a political ‘will’ to start a clean political life,
particularly by the Executive Authority.
When factional, sectarian and tribal conflicts continue, riots,
incidents of violence and human rights violations also increase,
which suggests that the culture of democracy and human rights is
still not yet deeply embedded in the Bahraini public and official
conscience. It also points to the fact that the Judiciary is weak
and is unable to adequately perform its role. Furthermore, it means
that civil society institutions have also failed in their attempt
to make any changes or provide citizens with appropriate mechanisms
in order to confront the challenges of daily life.
Bahrain is undergoing a transitional period towards achieving
democracy and the signs of this are clear and need not be mentioned.
To what extent however, has this transition affected the culture,
values and the life of the citizens? To what extent have we come
closer to achieving the values of social justice? And to what extent
has democracy encouraged the Government to improve the performance
of public services? And has the process of democratization provided
us with new tools or weapons with which to confront poverty, unemployment,
bribery and other symptoms of corruption?
We are convinced that improvements in public services and in
combating unemployment and corruption have actually taken place.
A change in Bahraini society’s culture towards respecting different
opinions which promotes human rights culture has also been noticed,
and even at the legislative and legal levels a positive change has
been detected, but is this enough? If the democratic transition
has not changed our situation, culture and performance for the better,
this means that there is a problem. And when democratization achieves
successes at some levels, how can these be measured? And how can
radical changes be achieved in the bureaucratic, judicial and legislative
systems in order to promote the values of democracy and move us
closer to it.