The global middle class is growing, but the hoped-for smooth democratic transitions have not occurred, says a leading expert.
Instead, what we have seen – from São Paulo to Caracas, from Sarajevo to Kiev, and from Istanbul to Bangkok – are clashes between an increasingly angry middle class and governments that have broken faith or taken them for granted, according to Jack Goldstone, Professor of Public Policy at George Mason University.
“These are movements of the angry emerging middle class in countries at a crossroads. If we examine the background to recent events in the Ukraine, Bosnia, Thailand and Venezuela, we find that despite the geographic distances that separate them, these countries are remarkably similar,” he writes:
Yet, democracy in the sense of majority rule is not what people are seeking. The middle classes in the Ukraine, Bosnia, Thailand and Venezuela are demanding greater accountability, and are challenging regimes seen as corrupt, out of touch and which form obstacles to a better future. Perhaps, most important, is what these events portend for the world’s largest democracy — India. Just as in Turkey, Brazil, Thailand and the Ukraine, India is developing an urban middle class that aspires to a better life.
Yet, just like these countries, India cannot yet provide that middle class the assurance of security and stability. Also, like these countries, the fruits of modernisation are being very unevenly distributed across the population, and this problem is made worse by rampant corruption. What the people of India want, just as the angry middle classes in these four countries do, is a government that is accountable, responsible, and effective in moving their country further into the modern world.