Latin America innovates for democratic renewal


Image: LATINNO Project. All rights reserved

If democratic renewal entails innovation, Latin America may have something to offer, research suggests.

Preliminary results of the LATINNO Project show that since the 1990’s and especially since the 2000’s democratic innovations have been consistently increasing in the region, researcher Thamy Pogrebinschi writes for Open Democracy:

Countries as different as Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Mexico, and Peru have each over a hundred of active new institutional designs for citizen participation and have engaged millions of people. Although such increase is well perceptible within countries that took the left turn, the political orientation of parties is not a condition to the creation of innovations: both left-leaning and right-leaning parties have implemented new spaces and mechanisms of citizen participation. These take place not only at the local level but also and especially at the national level. Although the State plays a major role in their implementation, civil society organizations have been increasingly expanding their chances to have their initiatives implemented, especially when they associate to the State in creating new forms and spaces for political participation.

The LATINNO data also shows that participation is open to individual citizens and groups, which only in a smaller number of cases need to join a civil society organization or to expect an invitation from the government in order to take part in the new spaces, Pogrebinschi adds. Citizens participate in diverse ways in these new institutions, but most and foremost through deliberation. This indicates that voicing preferences and debating alternatives may become a usual way of doing politics in Latin America, and deliberation may eventually play a role as important as casting a vote in the ballot box.


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