Democracy in Latin America: Political Change in Comparative Perspective / Edition 2

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Democracy in Latin America examines processes of democratization in Latin America from 1900 to the present. Organized thematically, with a unique historical perspective, the book provides a widespread view of political transformation throughout the entire region.

Adroitly blending qualitative and quantitative approaches, Democracy in Latin America offers a new and startling explanation for the prevalence of electoral democracy in modern-day Latin America and presents an indepth analysis of political challenges now confronting the region as a whole-including poverty, inequality, and criminality.

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Editorial Reviews

Foreign Affairs
This eloquent, epic retelling of Latin America's century-long struggle against elite oligarchy and populist tyranny arrives at the optimistic observation that the vast range of political experiments — left, center, and right — have converged toward democracy. Smith refutes the common notions that Latin American culture is inherently autocratic and that democracies cannot perform as well as nondemocracies in delivering social welfare. Drawing on deep area expertise and empirical tests, he joins the passion of a historian with rationalist political science and smartly enriches institutionalism with issues of identity, values, and culture. Smith's incisive literature surveys and illustrative "boxes" will help make this a favorite college text. However, a visceral anger distorts his assessment of U.S. policy (Kathryn Sikkink's Mixed Signals is a better guide to U.S. human rights policies), and he brands as "unrepresentative" political parties that do not share his own redistributive priorities. And regrettably, the text's argument trails off by ungenerously applying Fareed Zakaria's "illiberal" label to many Latin democracies — even as one of Smith's main references, Freedom House, now finds that most Latin Americans live in freedom. Still, Smith's book is a substantial contribution.
From the Publisher

"I cannot think of a better person than Peter Smith to undertake such a challenging project as this review of a century of Latin American struggles to attain democracy. He combines an intimate knowledge of the history of the twentieth century (his co-authored textbook on post-independence Latin America is the standard in the f ield), a deep understanding of political science, and a keen sense of international relations . . . This very readable, impressively researched and methodologically sophisticated study analyzes the unpredictable and sometimes unsteady course of nineteen Latin American countries to explain how democracy has become widespread . . .Democracy in Latin America will be essential reading for scholars, statesmen, and students concerned with Latin America's place in the world in our uncharted journey through the waters of globalization and the wars on terrorism."--Steven Topik, Department of History, Univ of California, Irvine

"This book is a major achievement. It uniquely combines historical depth, masterful organization of a great mass of information, sophisticated data analysis, shrewd interpretation and, indeed, great writing. This book is a must for persons interested on democracy and democratization, not only in relation to Latin America but also elsewhere--I do hope that this exemplary study will serve as a guide and an example for studies of similar quality." -- Guillermo O'Donnell, Helen Kellogg Professor of Government, University of Notre Dame

"Peter Smith does a superb job of wrestling with the most challenging conceptual questions related to democracy in Latin America. Drawing on insights from various disciplines and vast and sophisticated knowledge of the region, he puts contemporary debates about democracy in their proper historical perspective. More than a splendid synthesis of wide-ranging material, Smith's first-rate book is an instructive, scholarly contribution that will be an invaluable reference for students and decision makers seeking to enrich their understanding of such a crucial subject."-- Michael Shifter, Inter-American Dialogue

"This is the definitive book on the evolution and struggles of democracy in Latin America in the twentieth century. Both a comprehensive historical account and an important work of social science analysis, it is must reading for any student of Latin American politics and a distinguished contribution to the comparative democracy literature." -- Larry Diamond, Stanford University

"[Peter Smith] blends history and political science to create an illuminating and readable critical analysis of an issue that is of vital importance to Latin America --and the United States." -- Peter Winn, Tufts University

"This book offers a masterful synthesis of extant literature and original research on regime changes and varieties of democratic experiences in 20th century Latin America. The analysis is truly comprehensive, ranging from a focus on social forces, the military, and the international context to constitutions, parties, and elections, and to the state, social equity, civil and political rights, and public opinion. Peter Smith artfully weaves case discussions into the larger theoretical framework and makes a complex reality accessible to undergraduate students." -- Evelyne Huber, University of North Carolina

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195387735
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 9/8/2011
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 310,777
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Peter H. Smith is Distinguished Professor of Political Science and Simón Bolívar Professor of Latin American Studies at the University of California, San Diego. A former president of the Latin American Studies Association, he is the author of more than twenty books, including Talons of the Eagle: Latin America, the United States, and the World, Third Edition (OUP, 2007) and coauthor of Modern Latin America, Seventh Edition (OUP, 2009).

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Table of Contents

Tables, Figures, and Maps
Introduction: Dimensions of Democracy
A Tale of Two Presidents
Definitions of Democracy
Overview: Focus and Themes
Interpretive Arguments
Analytical Perspectives
1. Cycles of Electoral Democracy
Legacies of Independence
Cycles and Trends
Global and Comparative Perspectives
Democratic Dominoes?
Subregional Variations and the Colossus of the North
Lessons over Time: Prior Experience
Democracy and Instability
2. Transitions and Continuities
Starting Points
Economic Requisites?
Social Forces
Cycle 1: 1900-1939
Cycle 2: 1940-1977
Cycle 3: 1978-2000
End Games and Elite Bargains
The Bargaining Process
Getting to Cases
Patterns of Change in Perspective
3. The Military: Heading for the Exits?
Forging Fatherlands
Patterns of Participation
Missions and Regimes
Wars Against Subversion
The Democrats' Dilemma: To Amnesty or Not?
Precedents from Argentina
Chilean Twists
Modes of Interaction: The Armed Forces and Democracy
Has the Military Left?
4. Global Contexts, International Forces
Imperialism and Democracy
The Anticommunist Crusades
Stemming the Tides of Revolution
Displacing Inconvenient Democracies
Economic Issues: Debt and Structural Reform
The Political Economy of Globalization
Drugs, Dictators, and U.S. Policy
International Organizations
5. Presidents or Parliaments?
The Terms of Debate
Envisioning Alternatives
Proparliamentary Arguments
Attempts at Reform
Brazil: Voice of the Voters
Argentina: Calculating Political Odds
Chile: A Pact for Presidentialism
Why Not?
6. Institutional Variations
Executive Power
Means of Election
To Reelect or Not?
Sources of Power
The Legislative Branch
Electoral Systems and Rules of Representation
Reelection and Term Limits
Institutional Performance
Toppling Presidents?
Parties and Party Systems
Taking the Measure of Parties
Gauging Public Distrust
7. Elections: Voters, Winners, and Losers
Expanding the Electorate
The Range of Choice
Impacts of Bureaucratic-Authoritarianism
Legacies of Military Populism
A Resurgence of the Left
Digression: Schisms on the Left
Dilemmas of Democracy: Representation vs. Governance
8. State Capacity and Policy Performance
The Latin American State: Roles and Capacities
Democracy vs. Dictatorship: General Hypotheses
The Politics of Economic Growth
Social Impacts: Health and Education
The Problem of Poverty
Inequality and Income Distribution
9. The Politics of Social Equity
Losing Ground: The Working Class
Signs of Hard Times
Zero-Sum Politics
Women: Moving Up
Patterns of Participation
Political Representation
Positions and Policies
Gathering Strength: Indigenous Peoples
Bolivia: Party Politics
Ecuador: Strength in Social Movements
Guatemala: Civil War and Genocide
10. Freedoms, Rights, and Illiberal Democracy
Gradations of Democracy
Freedom of the Press
Antidefamation Laws and Policies
Analytical Overview
The Uneven Rule of Law
The Roles of Courts
The Changing Content of Electoral Democracy
Pathways to Full Democracy
11. The People's Verdict
The Concept of Political Culture
Democracy in Principle
The Relevance of Social Class
Democracy in Practice
Case Study: Insights from Argentina
Political Ideology
Trust in Institutions
Roots of Disenchantment
Activism and Protest
12. The Dialectic of Democracy
Findings in Review
Changing Shapes of Democracy
Democracy in the Era of Mass Politics
1940-1977: Dangers of Democracy
1978-Present: Democracy Made Safe
1998-Present: Democracy Turns Left
Epilogue: The Future of Democracy
The International Environment
Economic Dimensions
The Crash of 2007-2009
Transnational Crime
Political Developments
Democratic Tendencies
The Question of Consolidation
Deepening Democracy?
Survival, Institutionalization, and Legitimation
Alternative Scenarios
Standing Fast
Moving Ahead
Appendix 1. Classification of Electoral Regimes, 1900-2000
Appendix 2. Military Coups in Latin America, 1900-2000
Suggested Readings

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