Costa Rica: Quest for Democracy

By John A. Booth | Go to book overview

4
THE POLITICAL FRAMEWORK OF DEMOCRACY

Observers of Latin America concur that the region's nations share several institutional barriers to democracy: meddling and repressive armed forces, excessively powerful executives, weak legislatures, and weak and dependent courts. All of these tend to contribute to poor election quality, another barrier to democracy. This chapter sketches the basic ground rules and operation of government to determine how Costa Rica handles such problems. It also explores political parties and elections and how they affect the breadth, range, and depth of democracy.


The 1949 Constitution

General Provisions

The constituent assembly elected following the 1948 civil war rewrote Costa Ricds 1871 liberal constitution. The resulting constitution remains in force.

We, the Representatives of the People of Costa Rica, freely elected Deputies to the National Constituent Assembly, invoking the name of God and reiterating our faith in Democracy, decree and sanction the following Political Constitution of the Republic of Costa Rica.

Article 1. Costa Rica is a democratic Republic, free and independent.

Article 2. Sovereignty resides exclusively in the Nation.1

These passages clearly delineate the fundamental philosophy of government of Costa Rica. Following a tradition of republicanism begun in the nineteenth cen-

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Costa Rica: Quest for Democracy
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page v
  • Contents ix
  • Illustrations xiii
  • Acronyms xvii
  • Preface xxi
  • 1 - Latin American Democracy and Costa Rica 1
  • Notes 12
  • 2 - Contemporary Costa Rica In Central America 17
  • Notes 30
  • 3 - The Historical Development of Costa Rican Democracy 32
  • Notes 53
  • 4 - The Political Framework of Democracy 56
  • Notes 78
  • 5 - Social Structure and Civil Society 82
  • Notes 100
  • 6 - Political Participation 103
  • Notes 125
  • 7 - Political Culture 129
  • Notes 151
  • 8 - Political Economy in Transition 154
  • Notes 174
  • 9 - Costa Rica in the World 177
  • Conclusions 192
  • 10 - Analysi5 and Conclusions: Can Democracy Survive? 195
  • Notes 208
  • Appendix 211
  • Index 219
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