Is political decentralization an effective institutional reform to promote citizens´ engagement with democracy? The potential democratizing effect of political decentralization reforms has been a matter of substantial theoretical and empirical debate. Analyses of the causal impact of decentralization reforms have reached very dissimilar conclusions (Eaton and Connerley 2010), and they have been strongly marked by normative preferences.
Last year, the Obama administration announced a new civil society initiative, Stand with Civil Society, calling for support of civil society groups across the world and acknowledging the role they play in pushing for citizen engagement, equity, transparency and accountability. These positive perspectives of civil society pushing for more democratic governance contrasts with more skeptical views that civil society may actually negatively impact the prospects for developing strong democrac
Political clientelism is a widespread phenomenon all over the globe, and Mexico is certainly no exception; it is rather a living laboratory where several varieties of the practice are cultivated. How should we evaluate this practice? Mass adult suffrage and electoral competition provides even the most humble citizen with a resource, as Scott (1969: 1143) pointed out many decades ago.
Democracy does not ensure progressive welfare outcomes: yet, in Latin America such outcomes have been more common under democracy than under authoritarian governments or governments that strongly limit political and economic freedoms.1 I examine the cases of Uruguay and Paraguay to illustrate and qualify this position.