Saturday, February 20, 2021

From the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace: Thomas Carothers and Andreas Feldmann, (eds.) "Divisive Politics and Democratic Dangers in Latin America"


In Latin America, the coronavirus pandemic has raised the already high temperature of divisive politics. In Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru, managing polarization will be key to preserving democracy.

The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace has recently released a collection of essays edited by
Thomas Carothers and Andreas Feldmann, (eds.): "Divisive Politics and Democratic Dangers in Latin America" (17 February 2021). From their announcement:

Divisive politics have hit many Latin American countries hard in recent years, fueled by numerous underlying fissures and issues including economic inequality and exclusion, corruption, ideological differences, high levels of violence, and chronically weak state capacity. The coronavirus pandemic has only intensified these pressures. Latin America thus enters 2021 shadowed by an ominous sense that democracy is under extraordinary strain.

To help shine a light on these troubled waters and chart the risks ahead, this collection of essays by a notable set of regional experts examines recent developments in six key countries: Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru. Taken together, the different country accounts present a sobering picture, though not an unrelievedly negative one. Divisions are deep, economic troubles are widespread, and the pandemic continues to devastate the lives of countless people in the region. The risks for democracy are serious, ranging from the rupture of basic democratic structures to the potential emergence of new illiberal political figures and forces. Remedial steps are possible, but they will be challenging to carry out. The collection seeks to help engaged actors and observers throughout the region and beyond better understand the troubling dynamics of rising political division and formulate effective responses.

The Carnegie Endowment gratefully acknowledges support from the Ford Foundation that helped make this compilation possible.

 The table of Contents with LINKS follows below.

Much of the work provides a valuable updating of the long term structural tensions that manifest in contextually distinct ways in the states examined.  Of significant interest in the manifestation of what I have been calling the "COVID Accelerator Effect" ("The Metamorphosis of COVID-19: State, Society, Law, Analytics," Emancipating the Mind 15(2):261, 264-276).  Carothers and Feldmann note in their Conclusions: "on the whole, the pandemic has in fact accelerated confrontational political dynamics, embodied by surging protests, deepening polarization, more populism, and a growing distrust in existing institutions. The case studies in this collection affirm that this pattern of confrontation largely holds true in Latin America."


Table of Contents

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