Institutional Design in New Democracies: Eastern Europe and Latin America

The George Washington Journal of International Law and Economics, January 1, 1997 | Go to article overview

Institutional Design in New Democracies: Eastern Europe and Latin America


Institutional Design in New Democracies: Eastern Europe and Latin America, edited by Arend Lijphart and Carlos H. Waisman. Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, 1996. Pp. 265. $23.00 (softcover).

The Westview Press has published a series of books that attempt to broaden conceptual perspectives for the study of Latin America. This series resulted from a multi-year research group organized by the Center for Iberian and Latin American Studies at the University of California at San Diego. It attempts to demonstrate the desirability of analyzing Latin America from a comparative perspective. The latest volume in the series, Institutional Design in New Democracies: Eastern Europe and Latin America, examines the relationship between the challenge of institutional design and the outcomes of the process of economic and political liberalization in Latin America and eastern Europe.

The first chapter, written by editors Lijphart and Waisman, analyzes transitions to open economies and towards liberal, democratic polities in eastern Europe and Latin America. This chapter also sets out the groundwork for later chapters and discusses why a comparison between Latin America and eastern Europe is appropriate. After the introductory chapter, the collection is broken into three sections-one on the design of electoral systems, one on the design of executive-legislative relations, and a final section on the design of market economies.

The second chapter, written by Barbara Geddes, concerns the initiation of new democratic institutions in eastern Europe and Latin America, and examines the supposed incompatibility between democracy and the eastern European reality. The third chapter, "Electoral Systems and Electoral Reform in Latin America," by Dieter Nohlen, attempts to reexamine the political systems, the electoral systems, and the state structures of Latin American democracies. Another chapter in this section, written by Stanislaw Gebethner, examines the debate between proportional representation and majoritarian systems in Poland from 1989 to 1991. The fifth and final chapter in the section, entitled "Electoral Engineering and Democratic Stability: The Legacy of Authoritarian Rule in Chile" and written by Peter Siavelis and Arturo Valenzuela, discusses the design, goals, and problems of the Chilean electoral system. …

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