The Types of Populism in Latin America

There are several types of variations of populism in Latin America. Whether it be rooted in a historical context, or it is originated because of other reaons. The existence of populist political parties in Latin America are historically rooted post-Marxist institutionalized parties of the left (The Brazilian PT), left-leaning governments rooted in preexisting populist parties (Argentina’s Peronist Government), populist governments based on top-down political mobilization via charismatic leadership (Chavismo), and the leftist governments based on new social movements (Evo Morales in Bolivia).

One of the major things that I want to look at in this paper is the differing between the bad populism that has plagued Venezuela, and the successes of populism that we have seen in countries like Chile, Uruguay, Brazil, and Argentina. Lula rose to the Presidency of Brazil because the populist movement he attracted, and many Brazilians, other than the opposition party, Lula favorables in Brazil were very good. Under Lula, Brazil devloped their economy into a global economy and Brazil became known as a BRIC country, he also lifted millions out of absolute poverty. Dilma did not have the same success as Lula, but much of that is political posturing by the opposition party. Uruguay and Chile have some of the strongest democratic institutions in Latin America. So there has been some successful cases of populism in Latin America.

My hypothesis aboout populism is it can be dangerous when democratic institutions are weakened because of a concentration of power, change in constitution, and a decrease in checks and balances. This is what has happened in Venezuela, Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador. The type of populism that has been going on in Venezuela has spread to countries like Ecuador and Bolivia. I don’t think populism in general is dangerous to the institution of liberal democracy, but I think that populism can be used to raise important questions in a democrcacy and address problems such as economic inequality, technocrats, elite politicians, and a messy swamp. Populistic mobilization happens when too much power is concentrated among the elites and large companies control politicians, nationalism wavers, or a cultural change occurs such because of immigration. If we look at the rise of Trump, Brexit, these are the types of themes we see.

What is Populism?

A big part of my paper is not only understanding the type of populism that is prevalent in Latin America, because populism exists all over the world. Populism has also existed for many historical periods, it dates back to the 30s in Latin America, and within the 19th century it existed in Europe. However, what is Populism? Is it a ideology? Is it a political party? Is it a social movement?

Yes and no is the answer.The challenge of defining populism is at least partially due to the fact that the term has been used to describe political movements, parties, ideologies, and leaders across geographical, historical, and ideological contexts. Indeed, “there is general agreement in the comparative literature that populism is confrontational, chameleonic, culture-bound and context-dependent” (Gidron and Bonikowski, 2013). Populism can be every one of these. Much of the discourse on populism is centered around the problems of conceptualizing populism. Populism can be left and it can be right, it can be liberal and it can be conservative. Populism can be Trump and populism can be Lula from the PT party in Brazil. One of the main problems is populism has been thrown around so much in many different contexts within political science, sociology, and economics.

Though Latin America has been regionally trending towards left-leaning populism for many decades, there has also been right-wing populists in Latin America in Mexico and Guatemala. Populism has occured in both institutionally strong countries, and in countries where institutions are weak and economically marginalized.

 

This has been the toughest part throughout this paper. Latin America is a different type of populism in a different context, and it is as recent as 1998 with the election of Hugo Chavez, and since then Latin America has been facing a major trend of populism. However, it is different populism compared to what we see in the United States, Europe, and other parts of the world. How populism is used is also different. In Latin America it is not so much an ideaology, where in other countries it can be defined as an ideaology. But, in Latin America, populism is seen as a social movement and a political discursive style.

Research Journal # 10

I finished the literature review that I will use to critice the Yemeni experince of Civil Socity involvmnet in transition period with accopying to two case studies.

Literature review:
The role of the civil society in democracy and peace building is debatable between some authors’ embrace their important in consolidation of democracy and other authors warn against civil society intentions and role (Lerenzo&Fiori, 2010). This started from the definition of the civil society is different throughout history and governmental stages. There are three general arguments for the meaning of civil society. The first one, treat civil society as a domain for associational life that educates the ground for democratic value and contribute to strength the mutual trust and the horizontal connection in their society( build the social capital) (Putnam, 2001). The Second argument sees the civil society as a base for organized citizens face and request the government to widen bottom-up participation and protect civil and political rights (Seligman, 1992). The third argument refers to the German philosopher Hegel, that contrast the other two as he considers the civil society as not- independent actor in the society and it is an instrument for the government to impose and spread their culture and order in the society.
In the past, the civil society role in politics and transition to democracy was not clear and non-appreciable (Lerenzo&Fiori, 2010). As O’Donnell and Schmitter (1986) who give the credit to the political elite in demise the of authoritarian regimes rather than the civil society movements and as Gunther and Higley (1992) who argue that the choices of political elites and the institutional setup is the reasons behind the success of the post-transition period, rather than participation and the action of the civil society groups.
However in the late 1980s-early 1990s, the role of the civil society in democratization and any political transition started to be noticeable and valued and that was only after the mass mobilizations in Central and Eastern Europe, Asia and Africa.” Civil society had become important in promote political liberalization, prepare the way for democratic reform, support institution building and improve the quality of democracy” (Diamond, 1992; Ignatieff, 1995; Monshipouri, 1997; Pearce, 1997). And it became agreeable that “a vibrant civil society is essential for consolidating and maintaining democracy than for initiating it” (Diamond, 1994: 7).
Interestingly even the Consolidation of democracy and the role civil society are understood in two conceptual. First is the negative way because the grey area between maintaining democracy against a slow erosion towards hybrid regimes due to the residual presence of antidemocratic forces and the weakness of the state (O’Donnell, 1992, 1994, 1998; Carothers, 2002; Valenzuela, 1992; Zakaria, 1997)and for that the civic engagement is relatively less than the institutional arrangements, however the civil society could support the democratic erosion by community mobilization(Lerenzo&Fiori, 2010). On the other hand, other authors view the central and positive role in the consolidation of democracy as a process of constant transmission of democratic practices at both elite and mass levels (Karl and Schmitter, 1991; Pridham, 1995). Civil society could promote vertical accountability through encourage popular engagement (Geremek, 1992). Also Larry Diamond has argued that promotion of the popular participation by civil society could lead mitigate and reduce the polarity of political conflict through structure channels for articulating, collecting and representing interests people (Diamond, 1999). And for Juan Linz and Alfred Stepan (1996; 1997) democracy consolidation “is necessary to secure more than the behavioral loyalty of elites and the constitutional arrangements of institutionalized democratic methods of conflict resolution” (Lerenzo&Fiori, 2010, p.87).
Guillermo O’Donnell believes that developing countries there is a ‘brown area’ Guillermo O’Donnell (1993, p.1360) termed between the urban and rural in democratic development. So that lead for the remaining of the authoritarian reserves longer the local level, especially in rural and less developed areas of a country but the civil societies can contribute to change that. Worth mentioning that Philippe Schmitter (1993) believes that the civil society negatively impact the democracy by making the construction of the majority difficult since each CSO has their own interests and passions and this also, by imposing complicated processes of negotiation in political life (Schmitter, 1993).

 

 

Research Journal 9

For the past few weeks, I’ve been trying to find ways to incorporate the naming and shaming literature into a study of human rights reform in China. While some of the literature points to the strategy being effective in autocratic regimes, I have found weak evidence that this holds true in the Chinese case (especially in the context of Xinjiang and Tibet). To try and account for this rift between theory and reality, I’ve been considering possible explanations for exactly why this is. One possible reason (and the evidence I’ve encountered points to this as the strongest) is due to China’s involvement in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a Central Asian security organization headed by Russia and China. All states in the organization have problems with specific ethnonationationalist and separatist groups, and have framed the discourse around human rights to reflect a broader security risk for the state. Considering China has re-framed its domestic issues in Tibet and Xinjiang to fit within the broader context of the global war on terror post 9-11, it seems that the SCO provides an insular environment to promote less-than-democratic norms and to reject Western influence in the region. SCO member states all fall under “authoritarian” or “competitive authoritarian” categories (China, Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan), so it seems that the organization provides its members a degree self-made legitimacy. Interestingly, the SCO regularly conducts “peace missions” (not to be confused with the UN’s peace keeping operations, although China participates in those too), which consist of military exercises that simulate terrorist and separatist crises.

So, it seems that the SCO postures itself as an alternative to the liberal democratic structures in the West, which by definition offers its member states a degree of insulation from attempts at naming and shaming. As I’m getting deeper into writing the analysis, I’m finding that exploring situations in which the processes of democratization have stalled can contribute to the overall understanding of the rise of competitive authoritarianism.

Final Prompt

My views on Democracy have absolutely changed since taking this course. It wasn’t really a thing I thought about critically beforehand. I just assumed it was an overall positive system of governance and that it will inevitably be adopted by any educated and prosperous country. That is obviously not the case, its amorphous, ambiguous, and riddled with nuance. This class was very dense and pretty difficult but I learned more from it than my other classes especially in an analytical and critical thinking capacity.

The most insightful takeaway I have is a better ability to define the parameters of the democratic/authoritative spectrum. I am more readily able to understand moves in the contemporary political landscape that are reflective of an autocrat (such as the elimination of legislature in Venezuela) or moves that further democracy (which unfortunately has not been a trend in 2017). I am very happy I took this course and i think the insights I have gained have outweighed the stress the course load gave me. Global democracy is seemingly under threat by the rise of far-right populism, most of the countries undergoing this trend already have an established democracy. If the people want to save democracy then they have to get off teh couch and use it.

Final Prompt

My views on Democracy have absolutely changed since taking this course. It wasn’t really a thing I thought about critically beforehand. I just assumed it was an overall positive system of governance and that it will inevitably be adopted by any educated and prosperous country. That is obviously not the case, its amorphous, ambiguous, and riddled with nuance. This class was very dense and pretty difficult but I learned more from it than my other classes especially in an analytical and critical thinking capacity.

The most insightful takeaway I have is a better ability to define the parameters of the democratic/authoritative spectrum. I am more readily able to understand moves in the contemporary political landscape that are reflective of an autocrat (such as the elimination of legislature in Venezuela) or moves that further democracy (which unfortunately has not been a trend in 2017). I am very happy I took this course and i think the insights I have gained have outweighed the stress the course load gave me. Global democracy is seemingly under threat by the rise of far-right populism, most of the countries undergoing this trend already have an established democracy. If the people want to save democracy then they have to get off teh couch and use it.

 

Research Journal #12

This week I spent some time reading Brinks and Coppedge’s article “Diffusion is no illusion,” which provided a broader approach to understanding the diffusion theory.  Though many of the past works I’ve read regarding the diffusion theory have articulated the role of neighboring countries, this article took a much broader approach, arguing that international bodies, as well as regions in general, can affect the possibility of democracy failing or succeeding.  As I continue with my initial rough draft, I have realized that the diffusion theory does in fact apply to Gambia – wherein previously I didn’t think it had in this most recent election – due to the role of ECOWAS, and the spread of democracy within Eastern Africa within the most recent years.  The article also highlights the importance of strong historical ties to neighboring countries, dictating which countries play the largest role in affecting democratic change.  Additionally, the authors point to various factors which come into play, namely development levels, presidentialism (e.g., the overall type of existing government), and regional difference.  Once again, I will need to take into account these factors within Gambia, particularly the regional difference, in ultimately explaining why the diffusion theory allowed for Gambia’s recent elections to be enforced.  This article provides several impacting factors which I had not considered, and provides specific details to include in my argument.

Research Journal 10

I am almost done with the literature review on the Disarmament, demobilization and reintegration. I have found a very useful book on challenges of reintegration in post-conflict states by McMullin (Thanks to Fatma!). He identified five sets of challenges of reintegration –  programmatic, security, political, structural, and ideational. I am going to finish the paper by analyzing which challenge(s) triggered for Nepal.

Reflections back on the USA

What was the most interesting/useful/surprising thing you learned in this class? Have your views on democracy changed since we started, and if so, how?

Definitely a softball, but I have a strong answer. For me, Democracy has never been difficult to define. It is a governing system where power rests, ultimately, with the people. But now I know better; and now I am more confused than ever, both good feelings to talk away from a class with. First, I understand now that democracy is a process more than a structure. I have reverence for the documents that provide the scaffolding for democracy, which have intricacies worked in that display a stunning intuition for human behavior. I also have more patience now for the messy flow of change, a patience that I didn’t have just a few months ago. Given that I may one day enter into politics, having a respect for democracies ebbs and flows could not be more important.

The most important reading that I *personally* did for this class was not actually assigned reading. I read both Gene Sharp’s “From Dictatorship to Democracy” and Saul Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals.” These two books pushed my understanding of citizen power and expanded the way in which I think about civilian interactions with the government. While not assigned reading, the two books guided how I read other literature for the course and added a lens of community organization (that naturally works with democracy) which is otherwise unexplored. Of the assigned reading, Transitions from Authoritarian Rule was just fascinating. Case studies illustrated why democracy is tough to define and to build.

The most challenging piece of this class was the Democracy Index project. I do not dislike argumentation or complex discussions in class, but the project was clearly built for us all to finish with a shaky final production. Perhaps that was the point. Still, frustrating for students who desperately want to impress.

I am looking forward to using my (slightly more) developed perspective of democracy and international development (from last semester) for good out in the world. In this country specifically, I am interested to see where my knowledge can play a positive role improving our civil society and democratic culture. What is abundantly clear, though, is that good is relative and clearly positive gains are hard to pinpoint. At the very least, after taking this class, I am more ready to accept that democracy (and development) take time, and it is ok to just be a small part of a large, fascinating flow.

Thank you!

I think that over the course of this class, the readings and the classroom discussion but most of all Dr. Kendhammer’s critiques helped me understand that democracy is not a one faceted concept, it is not ideal but it is proved to be the most convenient system of governance so far.

The highlight of the semester was the democracy index. I learnt a lot in the process especially that I have never done something similar before. Despite from being a great practice, it made me rethink how measurements are being implemented arbitrarily.

Until I came to this realization, I had a lot of pride seeing that Tunisia is green (Free)on the Freedom House Index. Now I know that we are far from democratizing but we’re on the way (maybe). As we discussed in class, a thicker understanding of democratization following an authoritarian prevalence entails getting rid of the world order. So no more unenlightened pride for me!

One other concept that we focused on is Political participation and democratic knowledge. While all notions of democracy assume an informed and participatory citizenry, and that means discussion of democracy must include a discussion of media. And here where the trick was! Because news coverage is all about what is going on in the parliament and the capital, I had to call in and ask my family and friends who is the mayor of my hometown and if anyone attended a city meeting. And to my surprise, little is known about these two. However, everyone is up-to-date about what is going on the bigger political scene.

Finally, I think as someone who believed in change, I figured that I am seeing things from one perspective. Our conversation about the enfranchisement is one that I found very compelling. If knowing that a fast scale moving forward the enfranchisement and an expansion of the rights will lead to a massive outbreak of violence and Unintended consequences, then that would explain the reluctance in bringing forth these changes at once.

So take a class with Dr. Kendhammer or keep trying to understand complex political, social and economic concepts in the simplest and most hilarious way possible!