Democracy in Latin America: Political Change in Comparative Perspective / Edition 1

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Overview

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

"There's no real competitor to Democracy in Latin America. Peter Smith provides us with the gold standard of placing Latin American political institutions and policies in historical context and in comparative perspective."--John A. Booth, University of North Texas

"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 in democracy and democratization, not only in relation to Latin America but elsewhere."--Guillermo O'Donnell, University of Notre Dame

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195157598
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 2/24/2005
  • Edition description: Older Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 400
  • Product dimensions: 9.10 (w) x 6.00 (h) x 0.80 (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

Introduction : dimensions of democracy 1
1 Cycles of electoral democracy 19
2 Transitions and continuities 44
3 The military : heading for the exits? 73
4 Global contexts, international forces 107
5 Exploring institutional alternatives 137
6 Varieties of presidentialism 156
7 Elections : voters, winners, and losers 183
8 State capacity and policy performance 213
9 The politics of social equity 237
10 Freedoms, rights, and illiberal democracy 263
11 The people's verdict 285
12 The taming of democracy 313
Epilogue : the future of democracy 327
App. 1 Classification of electoral regimes, 1900-2000 347
App. 2 Military coups in Latin America, 1900-2000 354
App. 3 Key variables in statistical analysis 356
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