The relationship between economic development, ruling elites and democratic consolidation.
The end of the cold war resulted in much optimism in Africa that political and economic problems would be minimised. In line with this optimism a number of countries undertook political and economic reforms. These developments are the reason why I chose the topic of democratic consolidation. There has been a growing interest in the democratisation prospects of these 'fragile states'. The question is, would they succeed in establishing necessary institutions to support democratic norms? In the literature there are diverse opinions, some point to political elites as the main stumbling block to democratic consolidation. They argue that there are no incentives to pursue a democratic path. Modernisation theory has placed more emphasis on economic development as a prerequisite to political stability. As a result some people argue that poor countries have limited chances to consolidate their democracy. This paper focuses upon the prospects of democratic consolidation in South Africa. The study has two main themes that are closely interlinked. The relationship between economic development and political development will be examined as will the positioning and ability of ruling elite to facilitate or impede democratic consolidation. What is argued is that institutions are in place to guarantee democratic consolidation. What is required now is a robust civil and political society to safeguard this democracy. This dissertation concludes by arguing that citizens are the key to democratic consolidation, they can guard their won freedom if they feel that it is threatened.