In an age of heightened emphasis on democratization, the Royal Government of Cambodia illustrates many of the serious challenges which must be addressed to implant and nurture democracy in less developed political economies. The national elections conducted in 1993, celebrated at the time as a unique achievement, failed to spark requisite change in the political culture of Cambodia. Rejecting central elements of the democratic process, such as power-sharing and loyal opposition, the Cambodian elite later drew on long familiar aspects of traditional political culture to promote modernization within an authoritarian political model. The international community, which provided some US$5 billion in aid to the Royal Government of Cambodia over the ensuing decade, was complicit in the creation of this new political order in that it long hesitated to make the provision of aid conditional on meaningful political reform.

With the end of the Cold War, the number of states embracing some form of democratic government dramatically increased. Early in his first term, President Bill Clinton proclaimed democracy was on the march around the globe. President George W. Bush later articulated a bold strategy to spread freedom and democracy throughout the world. Given the widespread interest in democratization and the spread of civil society, the Cambodian experience after 1993 provides a sobering example of the challenges which must be addressed to nurture democracy in less developed political economies.


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 406-428
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.