One of the fears that people living in autocratic nations have — and which keeps them from embracing democracy — is the fear of instability. You see, there is this feeling that if such nations shift from autocracy to democracy, there would be instability. And this fear is not entirely misplaced, if the post Arab Spring experience is anything to go by. That is where, in the aftermath of the Arab Spring (which led to the ouster of long serving autocrats), we ended up with chaos and instability in previously stable nations, such as Libya. So people are afraid of shifting from autocracy to democracy, because they don’t want their nations to go the same route.
Such fears can’t be wished away. Thankfully though, there are some simple things that can be done, to ensure that democracy doesn’t automatically lead to instability.
First, it is important to ensure that people are properly educated on the workings of democracy, before making the shift from autocracy to democracy. You have to understand that these are people who have been repressed for long, and they may therefore not know what to do with new-found freedom. That could potentially lead to instability.
Second, it is important to ensure that the people tasked with management of the transition from autocracy to democracy are people of the highest integrity. So the objective is to ensure that you don’t entrust the transition to selfish individuals – you know, the sorts of individuals who would want to hijack it for their selfish gain.
Third, it is critical to ensure that only the ‘right type’ of democracy is adopted. This statement may sound ironical, but it is important to understand that there are many types of ‘democracy’ out there. Thus, for instance, you find that social democracy is a very different animal from what has come to be referred to as ‘crony democracy’. Some forms of democracy are, honestly speaking, exploitative. Now if the wrong type of democracy is adopted, people are bound to get disillusioned soon: potentially leading to instability.