Why Latin America’s Democracies Are Stuck

Issue Date January 2023
Volume 34
Issue 1
Page Numbers 156–70
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This essay documents a tendency toward democratic decline in Latin America in the last two decades. We note, however, that the modal regional pattern is not decline but democratic stagnation. We conceptualize democratic stagnation as a situation in which democracies have important and persistent democratic deficits. Three factors have contributed to the widespread pattern of stagnation in Latin America: powerful actors that block democratic deepening; poor governing results that fuel dissatisfaction and pave the way for authoritarian populists; and “hybrid states” that violate citizens’ rights, fail to provide security and quality public services, and are captured by powerful interests.

About the Authors

Scott Mainwaring

Scott Mainwaring is Eugene and Helen Conley Professor of Political Science at the University of Notre Dame.

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Aníbal Pérez-Liñán

Aníbal Pérez-Liñán is professor of political science and global affairs at the University of Notre Dame. He is the author (with Scott Mainwaring) of “Cross-Currents in Latin America,” which appeared in the January 2015 issue of the Journal of Democracy.

View all work by Aníbal Pérez-Liñán