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Democratic Trajectories in AfricaUnravelling the Impact of Foreign Aid$
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Danielle Resnick and Nicolas van de Walle

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199686285

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199686285.001.0001

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Two Steps Forward, One Step Back: The Limits of Foreign Aid on Malawi’s Democratic Consolidation

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back: The Limits of Foreign Aid on Malawi’s Democratic Consolidation

Chapter:
(p.110) 5 Two Steps Forward, One Step Back: The Limits of Foreign Aid on Malawi’s Democratic Consolidation
Source:
Democratic Trajectories in Africa
Author(s):

Danielle Resnick

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199686285.003.0005

Since the era of one-party rule, Malawi’s relationship with the donor community has proved erratic and contentious. During the second term of Malawi’s current president, Bingu wa Mutharika, this trend has had important implications for the consolidation of the country’s nascent democracy. Donors providing democracy aid have assisted with the conduct of elections and improved the technical capacity of parliamentarians. However, inconsistency across programme cycles, the concentration of funding around elections, and a reluctance to support political parties hinders the size of democracy aid’s long-term impact. Development aid, particularly general budget support, has tended to further sideline the role of parliament and indirectly has provided the incumbent party with an electoral advantage through support for the country’s fertilizer input subsidy programme. To prevent an erosion of democracy, donors often have threatened to withhold aid to Malawi. Yet, they frequently only proceed with these threats when concurrent concerns exist over economic governance.

Keywords:   democratic consolidation, donor relations, foreign aid, general budget support, Malawi

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