Institutional Design in New Democracies: Eastern Europe and Latin America

Institutional Design in New Democracies: Eastern Europe and Latin America

Institutional Design in New Democracies: Eastern Europe and Latin America

Institutional Design in New Democracies: Eastern Europe and Latin America


Countries throughout Latin America and Central and Eastern Europe are moving from semi-closed to open economies and from authoritarian to democratic political systems. Despite important differences between the regions, these transitions involve similar tasks: the establishment of governmental institutions and electoral systems conducive to legitimation of the new and fragile democracies and expansion of the institutional infrastructure of a market economy. This volume looks at both regions, focusing on the relationship between the tasks of institutional design and the outcomes of the process of economic and political liberalization. In particular, the contributors emphasize the design of institutions to serve a market economy, the design of electoral laws, and the design of executive-legislative relations. Each chapter discusses the legacy of the pre-existing authoritarian regime; the range of preferences among various strategic actors (the government, state bureaucracies, opposition parties, and interest groups) with regard to the pace and mix of reforms; and the consequences of final choices for the institutionalization of effective economies and the process of democratization.


Arend Lijphart and Carlos H. Waisman

A WAVE OF ECONOMIC and political liberalization is sweeping the world. Most countries in Latin America and almost all nations in Eastern Europe are undergoing these transitions simultaneously: from a semiclosed to an open economy and from an authoritarian to a liberal democratic polity. These regions are, of course, heterogeneous internally and different from each other; the institutional characteristics of their economies and polities are different, and so are the mechanisms of transition and perhaps even the outcomes of the changes underway. But at the same time, they are involved in processes of economic and political liberalization whose model (not always the intended end point) is a combination that is characteristic of the core capitalist countries: a market economy highly integrated into the international system and a competitive polity. □


The pervasive nature of these transitions is indicated by the fact that they appear to be independent of the level of development and, especially in the case of Latin America, also of the type of political regime. This is a remarkable aspect of the South American transition: All of the countries in the area, from relatively underdeveloped Bolivia and Paraguay to relatively industrialized Brazil and Argentina, have been moving from military rule to liberal democracy in the past decade. Regarding economic liberalization, we find it in authoritarian Argentina and also in democratic Argentina, under both Radical and Peronist administrations; in both . . .

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