"Political Power and Women’s Representation in Latin America." Leslie Schwindt Bayer. Oxford University Press. November 2012. ---
In Political Power and Women’s Representation in Latin America, Leslie Schwindt-Bayer examines the causes and consequences of women’s representation in Latin America. She does so by asking a series of politically relevant and theoretically challenging questions, including why the numbers of women in office have increased in some countries but vary across others; what the presence of women in office means for the way representatives legislate; and what consequences the election of women bears for representative democracy more generally. Schwindt-Bayer shows how the inclusion of women in politics has changed the issues brought into the political arena, writes Natalie Novick.
The EU has recently completed trade agreements with a number of different countries in Latin
America, and is seeking further agreements in Asia. Maria Garcia looks at the EU’s recent
history of trade negotiations, arguing that free trade agreements offer an important opportunity
to ‘level the playing field’ for EU businesses facing competition from the United States, China,
After the financial crises put free market evangelism on the defence, the message of 21st socialism has found increasing resonance across Latin America and abroad. The Triumph of Politics gives a comparative and historical overview of the governments of Hugo Chavez, Evo Morales and Rafael Correa at a time of deep divisiveness and political conflict in the region. Hassan Akram finds the book to be timely and important read, although he argues some of the political science concepts did not always suit the cases presented.
The Triumph of Politics: The Return of the Left in Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador. George Philip and Francisco Panizza. Wiley and Polity Books. September 2011.
This paper examines the decline of party politics in Latin America during the past two decades and the corresponding rise in what can be termed "anti-politics". It looks at populist leaders who appeal directly to the people and challenge existing political classes and parties. The author considers in particular the case of Venezuela, since the landslide victory of Hugo Chavez Frias in the 1998 presidential elections. The paper concludes that the return of party politics in Venezuela seems remote at present. Without an increase in the size and productivity of the formal economy, the author believes it is unlikely that the material base of meaningful party politics will re-emerge in the foreseeable future.
This paper examines Colombian electoral behaviour variables from the 2003 mayoral and council elections (specifically voter participation and the effective number of political parties) to try to identify how they have changed since previous periods (1988-2000). The changes are examined within the political context of the last elections and the 2003 political reform, the dynamics of the internal armed conflict, and the nationwide humanitarian crisis. We also qualitatively analyse the relationship between election results, the regional dynamics of the internal armed conflict, and the effects of the political reform, using first hand data from four municipalities: Barranquilla (Atlántico), Pasto (Nariño), Arauca (Arauca) and Barrancabermeja (Santander). The effect of the armed conflict on electoral guarantees is also examined as it directly affects the scope of the political reform. The paper is divided into four parts. The first deals with some of the conceptual difficulties for democracy in Colombia (the armed conflict and humanitarian crisis). The second analyses the 2003 local elections and examines general electoral tendencies following the changes introduced by the political reform. The third explores the results of the qualitative analysis; and finally we make our conclusions...
This paper is devoted to the description of the paramilitary intent of establishing a distinct social order in a specific region of Colombia (Puerto Boyaca and its hinterland) and the way in which it coexisted and interacted with state structures. It seeks to understand how and why such structures and political order co-evolve and how such evolution was related to the type of provision of security offered by the State and other actors.
This paper discusses the policies and characteristics of the two main organisations that deal with youth violence in Nicaragua. It reveals their problems, deficiencies, ways of insertion into the institutional framework, contradictory priorities, and dysfunctional interactions. The paper presents the political interference that characterises and shapes these policies and organisations, subjecting their performance to power structures articulated by the national elites’ hegemony, the weak capacity of the Nicaraguan state apparatus, and the external nature of their sources of legitimacy.
his article examines the political impact of economic liberalisation programmes in Venezuela from 1989 to 1998. Venezuela, a long-standing democracy, has experienced a virtual political implosion. The rapid downward spiral has seen an increasing crisis in governability that has been manifested by the collapse of the two main political parties, an increase in political polarization, more frequent coup attempts, alarming increases in voter absenteeism, the growing use of corruption scandals as instruments of political competition, the increasing frequency of mass and often violent street demonstrations, dramatic increases in crime, growing labour unrest including a two-month national workers strike, and the return of radical populist rhetoric and policy accompanied by a more authoritarian presidentialism that has been absent in Venezuela since the late 1940s. Accompanying the increase in ungovernability has been a severe economic crisis. In the period 1988-2002, per capita income declines have been consistently among the worst in Latin America and percentage increases in income inequality, poverty and informal employment have been among the highest on the continent. Regulatory deficiencies were also at the heart of one of Latin America's worst banking collapses in the 1990s. In this paper it is suggested that economic liberalisation and political decentralisation has not strengthened the state as the capability approach predicted. The idea that weak states will govern the economy better by intervening less - the so-called capability approach - has not been borne out by the trajectory of the Venezuelan economy. What is missing in the capability approach is an analysis of how capacity is constructed and...
Although it has become accepted as a matter of course that small firms are important for economic development and there exists an abundant literature on small enterprise promotion, very little attention is given to understanding the factors that affect small firms' capacity to participate in politics. Filling this gap is important, for supporting small firms is not a technical choice but rather the outcome of political processes involving conflicts between actors with competing interests. In the simplest terms, representation affects policy, so anyone concerned with small enterprise development needs to consider the process by which small firms can secure representation. This paper addresses this political vacuum, analysing the capacity of small industrialists to construct durable mechanisms of representation. Emphasis is placed on representation outside of the electoral realm. Using Stepan's distinction between "civil society", where interest groups and social movements articulate their interests, and "political society", the arena that hosts formal contestation among parties over policymaking authority, the analysis here is focused on civil society. Rather than focusing on political parties, attention is paid to the aggregation and articulation of actors' interests through business associations. The analysis is presented in two stages. The first section presents a framework for analysing small industry politics. By drawing attention to the core characteristics that define small firms as political actors...
This study analyses the impact of the war on political participation in the March 2002 elections to the lower house of the Colombian Congress. The specific research question is whether the dynamics of violence in Colombia has affected the way voters behaved in those elections. In order to provide some answers, this article seeks to pinpoint the relationship between war and democracy by focusing upon a key component of democratic regimes, namely political participation. The article is organized in five sections. The first consists of a theoretical overview of democracy and political participation. The second section, drawn principally from the press, provides evidence of the impact of the war upon the congressional and presidential campaigns. The third part discusses the evolution of political participation in Colombia. The fourth section is a quantitative analysis of the relationship between violence and political participation. Finally, the last section offers some conclusions about political participation and violence in Colombia. Although Colombian democracy is under assault from armed actors and undermined by socio-economic factors, its viability has not been contested to the point of regime collapse, nor is that likely to occur in the near future. While it is appropriate to label Colombia a crisis state...
This paper aims at understanding Peru's recent political trajectory, and more specifically its failure at democratic consolidation. How can it be that a country that twenty years ago had probably better chances than most of the Southern Cone Latin American countries to embark on a successful democratic transition, underwent from 1992 onwards an involution that culminated by the year 2000 in a political debacle? How did the Peruvian democratic regime, born of a relatively inclusive constitutional pact, turn twelve years later into an authoritarian one-man show?
This article considers how the 'accidental logics' of political settlements for the English National Health Service (NHS) and the Medicare and Medicaid programmes in the United States have resulted in different institutional arrangements and different implicit social contracts for rationing, which we define to be the denial of health care that is beneficial but is deemed to be too costly. This article argues that rationing is designed into the English NHS and designed out of US Medicare; and compares rationing for the elderly in the United States and in England for acute care, care at the end of life, and chronic care.
Robert Dahl, the foremost American political scientist of the post-war era, passed away earlier this month. Bill Kissane looks back at the central role he played in creating the discipline of political science in the United States after the war and his status as the pioneer of democratization studies.
Why does the productivity of Latin America lag so far behind that of the United States? In new research, Francesco Caselli uses a development-accounting analysis to begin to explain these differences. By comparing the differences in income per worker between Latin American countries and the US to the differences that would exist if these countries differed only in their stocks of physical and human capital, he finds that Latin American countries only use their capital about half as efficiently as the US. This points to a need to understand the technological and institutional constraints that hamper the efficient use of capital.
Last week President Obama announced that the U.S. and Cuba would be taking steps towards normalizing relations between the two countries. Tanya Harmer writes that the move to end the Cold War in Latin America is a triumph for the principle of non-intervention, and for President Obama’s reputation in the region. She also warns that questions remain over Obama’s ability to negotiate an end to the 53-year embargo with Congress, the role of new sanctions against Venezuela and the desire of Cuban leaders to open up the country further.
"Political Struggles and the Forging of Autonomous Government Agencies." Cristopher Ballinas Valdés. Palgrave Macmillan. June 2013. --- The central argument of Political Struggles and the Forging of Autonomous Government Agencies is that the level of autonomy of government agencies is the outcome of struggles between opposing coalitions. Cristopher Ballinas Valdes aims to show how political struggles between politicians and bureaucrats often generate a muddle of agencies that lack coherence and are subject to different and conflicting levels of political control. A must-read for academics and reformers interested in Mexican economic institutions, writes Julián Daniel López-Murcia.
"Two Nations Indivisible: Mexico, The United States and the Road Ahead." Shannon K. O’Neil. Oxford University Press. May 2013. --- Over three decades Mexico has gone from a poor to a middle class nation, a closed to an open economy, an authoritarian to a vibrant (if at times messy) democracy, and a local to an increasingly binational society. Two Nations Indivisible aims to tell the story of the making of modern Mexico, and what it means for the United States. Recounting the economic, political, social, and security changes of the last thirty years, it provides a roadmap for one of the most overlooked foreign policy challenges of recent times. A recommended read for those looking for an overview of contemporary U.S.-Mexico affairs, writes Alexei Anisin.
Campaign spending is a perennial concern in both national and local elections, especially since the 2010 Citizens United Supreme Court ruling. Proponents argue that more spending increases interest in elections, while detractors claim that it creates biases in representation and public policy. Using an original dataset, Aaron C. Weinschenk examines campaign spending levels in mayoral elections, finding that the electoral context and local political institutions play the most important role in shaping levels of campaign spending across city elections. From these results, he identifies several ways to reduce campaign spending in mayoral elections, but notes that these changes may have unintended consequences. If levels of campaign spending decline due to institutional changes, cities elections, which often suffer from low voter turnout rates, might experience even lower levels of turnout.
This thesis speaks directly to the literature that assess the links between distinctive political regimes and the media. But rather than using normative expectations or current afflictions from the political regime or the emerging media system in new democracies as a entry point into the study, this research builds on the notion of ‘political-media complex’ (Swanson 1992, 1997) to centre the analysis on three institutional factors: (1) the rules that institutions enforce to give order; (2) the organizational dynamic that institutions impose over individuals’ roles, and; (3) the patterns of change and tendencies that institutions take from but also inflict on historical rules and practices.
Drawing on the analysis of interviews with government communicators that served at the outset of the Mexican democracy (2000-2006) and on a supportive document research of official documents, the thesis shows that ‘thinking institutionally’ about the state-media relation allows a better understanding of how formal rules, bureaucratic structures, managerial strategies and certain professionalization patterns of the political communication mould this interaction.
Less evident but equally relevant is the influence that informal arrangements impose on this interaction. It cannot simply be assumed that proscriptions (statutory regulation...
This thesis investigates electoral accountability for incumbent leaders and their parties in Latin America. It addresses two central questions. First, it seeks to explain sources of contextual and institutional variation in the degree to which voters punish and reward incumbents. Second, it asks how voters hold incumbents accountable for other areas of government control besides the
The first paper develops a framework of executive accountability as dependent on the degree to which the presidential candidate of the incumbent party is identified with the performance of the outgoing president. It differentiates between presidents running for re-election,
successors, and non-successors. Estimating random-intercept random-slopes models on an original dataset, it shows different levels of accountability for the three types of candidates.
The second paper examines whether endorsements from incumbent politicians to co-partisans lead to more
electoral sanctioning. It uses a randomised experiment embedded in a national survey conducted in the run-up to the 2012Mexican general election to demonstrate that Senate candidates endorsed by the outgoing president are held more electorally accountable. Using a difference-in-difference