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Latin American democratization since 1978: Democratic transitions, breakdowns, and erosions

Mainwaring, S and Pérez-Liñán, A (2005) Latin American democratization since 1978: Democratic transitions, breakdowns, and erosions. In: The Third Wave of Democratization in Latin America: Advances and Setbacks. UNSPECIFIED, 14 - 60. ISBN 9780521824613

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What explains the remarkable burst of democratization that Latin America experienced between 1978 and 1992? And what explains the stagnation of democratization since 1992? These are the fundamental questions of this chapter. Many of our answers to these questions run contrary to conventional wisdom based on worldwide analyses. For example, many authors have argued that more economically developed countries are more likely to be democratic. In contrast, for Latin America during the fifty-five years covered in our analysis, in particular from 1946 to 1977, economically more developed democracies were actually slightly more vulnerable to regime breakdowns. Theories of democracy based on modernization, class structure, and economic performance are poor explanations of the post-1978 democratic transformation. Our analysis underscores the importance of the regional political environment - a factor that was downplayed until the 1990s in writings on democratization. Decreasing polarization and stronger commitment of political elites to democracy also help explain the post-1978 democratization. Our second major objective is to examine and interpret the impasse that the wave of democratization encountered after 1992. A number of nonconstitutional depositions of democratically elected presidents occurred; some democratic regimes eroded and became semidemocratic; more antiparty presidents have been elected, with potentially negative consequences for democracy; and the legitimacy of democracy as measured in public opinion surveys declined. Three factors help explain the impasse of democratization.


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Item Type: Book Section
Status: Published
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Mainwaring, S
Pérez-Liñán, A
Date: 1 January 2005
Date Type: Publication
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Page Range: 14 - 60
DOI or Unique Handle: 10.1017/cbo9780511791116.002
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Political Science
Refereed: Yes
ISBN: 9780521824613
Title of Book: The Third Wave of Democratization in Latin America: Advances and Setbacks
Date Deposited: 10 Oct 2014 16:40
Last Modified: 30 Mar 2021 12:55


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