Delegative Democracy Revisited: More Inclusion, Less Liberalism in Bolivia

Issue Date July 2016
Volume 27
Issue 3
Page Numbers 99-108
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Bolivia under the MAS government of Evo Morales (2006–present) has offered weak protection for liberal rights, politicized the courts, and threatened opponents and the press. While some scholars have characterized Bolivia as nondemocratic, it is best described as “democratic with an adjective”—one that exhibits delegative features, like the dominance of a personalistic leadership and weak horizontal accountability. However, unlike the classic cases of “delegative democracy,” those features are not linked to “deactivation” of subordinate groups, but rather to continued levels of social organization, expanded opportunities for citizen input through channels of representation and contestation, and greater governmental responsiveness to those groups. This has led to important shifts in domestic power relations.