Delegative Democracy Revisited: Latin America’s Problems of Success

Issue Date July 2016
Volume 27
Issue 3
Page Numbers 158-65
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This concluding essay proposes a reassessment of Guillermo O’Donnell’s treatment of horizontal and vertical accountability in his conceptualization of “delegative democracy.” In a situation that parallels that of the 1990s, today several Latin American democracies are characterized by the erosion of horizontal accountability under powerful presidents. In contrast to O’Donnell’s notion of delegative democracy, however, other democracies in the region seem to display a strengthening of horizontal accountability and the subsequent erosion of vertical accountability. In such cases, crises of representation have crystallized. We conclude that deficits of vertical accountability should be stressed in future assessments of the region, and argue in favor of expanding the “minimal” conceptualization of this dimension of delegative democracy to make sense of current developments.