Delegative presidencies have not been a problem in post-Pinochet Chile, but the rise of mass protest movements suggests that the country’s new democracy has gone too far in the direction of demobilizing society.
President Alvaro Uribe’s time in office was marked by disturbing trends that included a spike in extrajudicial killings and an attempt to overthrow term limits, but the country’s institutions of horizontal accountability proved remarkably resilient.
After spending the 1990s coping with an overweening president, Peru settled into a more sedate style of politics, but it is one in which parties barely exist, voters feel unhappy with their elected chief executives despite strong economic growth, and technocracy rather than democracy is the key mode of decision making.
Latin America has not been witnessing a general trend toward authoritarianism, but accountability—whether horizontal, vertical, or both—has suffered in some countries, and at times has done so as a side-effect or unexpected cost of what must be considered signal democratic advances toward noble goals such as greater social and political inclusion.
Venezuela’s competitive authoritarian regime now confronts a highly mobilized opposition with a large majority in the legislature. What are the prospects for successful democratic change amidst a deteriorating security situation and an economy in freefall?