Policy Implications for
Democratic Rulers: Lessons
from Costa Rica, India, and Turkey
Parliament and democracy are only considered desirable by the possessing
class so long as they maintain existing conditions. That is, of course, not real
democracy; it is the exploitation of the democratic idea for undemocratic pur-
poses. Real democracy has had no chance to exist so far, for there is an essential
contradiction between the capitalist system and democracy. Democracy, if it
means anything, means equality; not merely the equality of possessing a vote,
but economic and social equality.— Jawaharlal Nehru
The empirical findings presented in the previous chapter provide support for the thesis that a democratic system can be attained through the adoption of a set of democratic rules, but it cannot be maintained without an infrastructure based on balanced economic development. In other words, civil and political rights, essentials of democracy, cannot be sustained absent a minimum level of socio‐ economic rights. In fact, structural changes toward eliminating economic discrepancies are treated as a prerequisite for genuine and effective political democracy by many Latin American specialists. Coercive civil and political rights policies, implemented one after the other, result in important qualitative changes in political systems, transforming more democratic systems into less democratic ones. These policies do not eliminate socioeconomic problems, however, and they leave a nation with a high probability of experiencing similar qualitative transformations in the future.
Among those analyzed, coups d'état appear to be among the most important events leading to high rates of decline in democracies. If we examine individually some cases with high levels of decline and coups d'état and follow the changes in other factors for three or four years prior to and after the coups, the cyclical character of coercive policies can be seen clearly. These cases show that although economic and structural factors are relatively constant, generally the social unrest that was high before a coup is reduced or completely eliminated soon afterward.
The Afghan coup of 1973, four coups in Argentina ( 1955, 1962, 1966, and 1976), the 1960 Bolivian coup, the 1964 military takeover in Brazil, the 1972