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Democracy in Latin America

Between Hope and Despair

Ignacio Walker

Publication Year: 2013

In 2009, Ignacio Walker—scholar, politician, and one of Latin America’s leading public intellectuals—published La Democracia en America Latina. Now available in English, with a new foreword, Democracy in Latin America: Between Hope and Despair contributes to the necessary and urgent task of exploring both the possibilities and difficulties of establishing a stable democracy in Latin America. Walker argues that, throughout the past century, Latin American history has been marked by the search for responses or alternatives to the crisis of oligarchic rule and the struggle to replace the oligarchic order with a democratic one. After reviewing some of the principal theories of democracy based on an analysis of the interactions of political, economic, and social factors, Walker maintains that it is primarily the actors, institutions, and public policies—not structural determinants—that create progress or regression in Latin American democracy. Democracy in Latin America is organized by eight themes: independence and the establishment of democracy; the economic shift from exports to import substitution; democratic breakdowns, transitions, and consolidation; the double transition to democracy and trade liberalization in the 1980s and 1990s; institutions, democratic governability, and neopopulism; presidentialism and parliamentarism; the "new social question"; and the need for democracy of institutions. Walker systematically addresses the abundant literature on democracy in Latin America, combining a scholarly perspective with real world experience that enhances the understanding of political and economic development in the region.

Published by: University of Notre Dame Press


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pp. 1-7


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pp. 8-9

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pp. ix-xvi

This book is a dialogue between academia and politics. My life has traveled paths between both. After a decade dedicated to law, first as a student and later as a human rights lawyer during the ...

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pp. 1-9

It is a paradox of our region and time period that, while Latin America experiences the most widespread presence of democracy in its history, there remains a general perception that these democracies are ...

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Chapter 1: The Search for Alternatives To Oligarchic Rule

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pp. 11-47

At different times and in various forms, liberalism, positivism, revolution, corporatism, clientelism, patrimonialism, socialism, and populism have been some of the ideologies and institutional arrangements attempted in ...

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Chapter 2: Toward A New Model Of Development

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pp. 49-69

Economics is not my specialty. Nonetheless, it is impossible to understand political development and democracy in Latin America without also examining economic development. In fact, some of the most ...

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Chapter 3: Democratic Breakdown, Transition, and Consolidation

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pp. 71-106

My experience of democratic breakdown in Latin America has nothing to do with theory. I was seventeen years old and a senior in high school when a military coup overthrew the government of President Salvador ...

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Chapter 4: Toward A New Strategy Of Development

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pp. 107-126

In our recent history, one could say that there are at least three basic approaches to economic development in Latin America: neoliberalism, neo - populism, and what we have referred to in the case of the Concertación ...

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Chapter 5: Democracy, Governability, and Neopopulism

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pp. 127-160

I began to write this chapter—not thinking that it would become part of a book—while listening to a speech that Hugo Chávez gave in Lima, Peru, in 2005. The speech was given at one of the many summits for ...

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Chapter 6: Presidentialism and Parliamentarism

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pp. 161-190

I have been a member of the Chamber of Deputies and a senator, worked in the executive and the legislative branches of government, been part of the governing administration and, most recently, been part of the ...

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Chapter 7: The New Social Question

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pp. 191-214

As a senator, I represent a district of twenty-six municipalities and five provinces that stretches from Valparaíso to Aconcagua, with a predominantly poor, rural zone and another predominantly urban one. In both ...

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Chapter 8: Democracy Of Institutions

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pp. 215-237

As O’Donnell explains (and as we saw in chapter 5), Latin America faces poverty both in the material sense, as a lack of goods, and in a legal sense, as a lack of rights. The implication of this fundamental idea is that the ...

Works Cited

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pp. 239-248


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pp. 249-262

E-ISBN-13: 9780268096663
E-ISBN-10: 026809666X
Print-ISBN-13: 9780268019723
Print-ISBN-10: 026801972X

Page Count: 280
Illustrations: NA
Publication Year: 2013