Como siempre, un excelente número.
Politics of the Periphery: An Introduction to Subnational Authoritarianism and Democratization in Latin America
(Edward L. Gibson)
The article is an introduction to the topic featured in JPLA 2/2010 "Subnational Authoritarianism and Democratization in Latin America." It discusses the papers by Carlos Gervasoni, Agustina Giraudy, Julián Durazo Herrmann, Alfred P. Montero, and Tracy Beck Fenwick that follow in this issue. Why feature the topic “subnational authoritarianism and democratization” in the Journal of Politics in Latin America ? Because despite widespread agreement that subnational jurisdictions in Latin America vary considerably in the democratic character of their politics, political scientists are still largely in the dark about how to conceptualize and measure this situation, and have scant knowledge about mechanisms that sustain and undermine it. This collection of articles makes major headway toward clearing our methodological and theoretical ignorance of these topics.
The Institutional Feasibility of National-Local Policy Collaboration: Insights from Brazil and Argentina
(Tracy Beck Fenwick)
The goal of this paper is to suggest that municipalities can facilitate the central government’s ability to carry out its desired policy goals. Using three institutional variables that provide internal evidence for each case, I will argue that within some institutional configurations the center may seek uniformity of outcome by trying to circumvent governors and/or regional intermediation and forge a direct relationship with municipalities. Based on research from the area of social protection policy in Brazil and Argentina, I suggest that direct national-local collaboration contributed to the ability of the Brazilian central government to bypass governors and evenly spread non-contributory welfare goods across its territory and alleviate poverty. I argue that such policy collaboration is less likely to be institutionally feasible in a federal system like Argentina’s, where such equivalent collaboration is impeded by the ability of its provinces to directly capture local units of government and undermine national policy outcomes and executive preferences.
No Country for Leftists? Clientelist Continuity and the 2006 Vote in the Brazilian Northeast
(Alfred P. Montero)
Building upon recent studies of the electoral effects of social policy and President Lula da Silva’s coattails in the 2006 Brazilian elections, this article explains the performance of leftist and conservative candidates in elections for governor during that cycle in the Northeast region. The study assesses three systemic factors: the conditional cash transfer program, Bolsa Família , economic growth, and Lula’s coattails on support for right-wing incumbents and left-wing oppositions in the states of Bahia, Maranhão, and Ceará. Based on the analysis of an original municipal-level dataset and a survey of partisan elites, the findings underscore the importance of urbanbased party building strategies across the three states and patterns of elite alliances specific to each state. Alliances made in the capitals coupled with divided conservative establishments, facilitated leftist victories in the examined states. At the same time, variations in alliance patterns and leftist party development across the three states reveal that conservative clientele networks remain vibrant bases of right-wing support, especially in the interior, and despite either social policy or Lula’s coattails.
Neo-Patrimonialism and Subnational Authoritarianism in Mexico. The Case of Oaxaca
(Julián Durazo Herrmann)
How do subnational authoritarian enclaves emerge (or survive) in a democratic transition at the federal level? How can they endure large-scale social protests, like the one that shook Oaxaca in 2006? While federal tolerance for subnational authoritarian practices is a necessary condition, it is insufficient in itself to explain why subnational political systems sustain and eventually reproduce authoritarian practices in the first place. In this article, therefore, I focus on the internal dimension of subnational authoritarianism. I argue that, because of its reliance on two distinct sources of legitimacy, Oaxaca’s neo-patrimonial domination system was able to respond to the formal democratizing pressures emanating from the federal transition without losing its authoritarian nature. This process of hybridization transformed Oaxacan institutions, but left social structures and the political dynamics that emerge from them – the sources of subnational authoritarianism – almost intact. By exploring the evolution of neo-patrimonialism and hybridization in Oaxaca from a theoretical perspective, I address the issues of change and continuity in the emergence of subnational authoritarian enclaves, in Mexico and elsewhere.
The Politics of Subnational Undemocratic Regime Reproduction in Argentina and Mexico
This article studies the continued existence of subnational undemocratic regimes in Argentina and Mexico, two countries that have recently experienced national democratization. The first part of the article offers a conceptualization of subnational democracy and measures its territorial extension across all subnational units. The second part explores a common, albeit not systematically tested explanation about subnational undemocratic regime continuity, namely, that these regimes persist because they meet national incumbents’ strategic political needs. This claim is tested using statistical analyses to contrast patterns of spending across undemocratic subnational units during the presidencies of Menem (1989-1999), De la Rúa (2000-2001), Duhalde (2002), and Kirchner (2003-2007) in Argentina, and Fox (2000-2006) in Mexico. Contradicting conventional wisdom, the results show that presidents only reproduce a handful of subnational undemocratic regimes, as not all of them can meet presidential needs. In addition, the results reveal that the strategic calculation of presidents regarding this reproduction is dictated by factors that have been largely overlooked by the literature.
Measuring Variance in Subnational Regimes: Results from an Expert-Based Operationalization of Democracy in the Argentine Provinces
This paper presents an expert-based operationalization strategy to measure the degree of democracy in the Argentine provinces. Starting with a mainstream and “thick” definition of regime type, I assess each of its aspects using a subjective or perception-based approach that taps the knowledge of experts on the politics of each province. I present and justify the methodological design of the resulting Survey of Experts on Provincial Politics (SEPP) and conduct a preliminary analysis of its results. Some aspects of the provincial regimes appear to be clearly democratic, while others are mixed or even leaning towards authoritarianism. Moreover, some show little interprovincial variance, while others vary considerably from province to province. An analysis of the central tendency and dispersion of the survey items allows for a general description of the Argentine provincial regimes. Inclusion is the most democratic dimension, while the effectiveness of institutional constraints on the power of the Executive is the most deficient. Electoral contestation is generally free of traditional forms of fraud, but incumbents often command far more campaign resources and media attention than do their challengers. Physical repression is rare, but opponents in some provinces face subtler forms of punishment. While the survey does not uncover any clear cases of subnational authoritarianism, stricto sensu, provincial regimes do vary significantly from basically democratic to clearly hybrid.
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