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Transparency is an expensive business for fledgling democracies

If information is freely made available to the public, it needs analysing to be of any use, argues Fabiano Angélico, who charts four steps on the path to robust democracy.

Activists and open government enthusiasts usually argue that transparency fosters democracy and good governance, helps fight corruption and is crucial for the defence of human rights.

With all that in mind, many countries have passed freedom of information laws in recent years to try to ensure transparency. This move was most favoured by flourishing democracies looking for tools and strategies to strengthen their new forms of governance. Such effort seems to have led to the building of good freedom of information laws – one analysis found the best laws were passed in developing countries, rather than in the established democracies.

However, well-intentioned civil society and politicians and well-designed legislation are not enough; for real transformation to happen, many events must take place – and access to information is just the first step.

In addition, for a transformation that favours the most underprivileged, the road is a longer one. Let’s see how we could get it.

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Transparency is an expensive business