Deepening Local Democracy in Latin America

Participation, Decentralization, and the Left

By (author) Benjamin Goldfrank

Paperback - £28.95

Publication date:

15 May 2013

Length of book:

312 pages


Penn State University Press

ISBN-13: 9780271037950

The resurgence of the Left in Latin America over the past decade has been so notable that it has been called “the Pink Tide.” In recent years, regimes with leftist leaders have risen to power in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Uruguay, and Venezuela. What does this trend portend for the deepening of democracy in the region? Benjamin Goldfrank has been studying the development of participatory democracy in Latin America for many years, and this book represents the culmination of his empirical investigations in Brazil, Uruguay, and Venezuela. In order to understand why participatory democracy has succeeded better in some countries than in others, he examines the efforts in urban areas that have been undertaken in the cities of Porto Alegre, Montevideo, and Caracas. His findings suggest that success is related, most crucially, to how nationally centralized political authority is and how strongly institutionalized the opposition parties are in the local arenas.

“Benjamin Goldfrank’s proposal to compare various leftist-sponsored experiments in collective participation in local decision-making represents a valuable contribution. . . . This book is an example of exceptional scholarship. It is well focused, explores the theoretical and practical implications of its findings and draws on extensive fieldwork and considerable secondary literature.”

—Steve Ellner, Journal of Latin American Studies