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International Aid and Democracy Promotion: Liberalization at the Margins is written in response to the current international context. In a world characterized by feckless democracies and resurgent authoritarianism, how might international democracy promotion proceed? I argue that we should take both the reluctance of Western donors to promote political reform and the pushback by recipients seriously. Since political liberalization hurts authoritarian recipients, they can be expected to offer alternative policy concessions for aid in lieu of democratization and donors, eager for policy compliance, may not do enough to promote political liberalization. This means some recipients like Egypt, will have leverage against the West and are effectively immune to donor pressure. It also implies some recipients, like Fiji, will lack the attributes to make counteroffers attractive enough to the West. Those who do not offer much benefit to the donor in terms of security or commercial opportunities or what I call secondary recipients, are more likely to liberalize as the price of receiving aid. Thus, secondary recipients should be the proper emphasis of democracy aid. If we filter recipients by their leverage, democracy promotion with aid need not be a lost cause. 


If so, an aid allocation strategy of emphasizing secondary recipients becomes an effective way of democracy promotion. Hence the subtitle of the book, Liberalization at the Margins.

I am grateful to Ashoka University for funding open access. This book is free under the following Open Access conditions: Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives (CCBY-NC-ND) license. Get it here.


If you prefer a hard copy, it’s available from Routledge or Amazon (US or India ).

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