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Copenhagen Consensus Center

Copenhagen Consensus Latin America: Democracy

Assessment Paper

By Mark P. Jones

The working paper used by the Expert Panel is available for download here, the finalized paper has been published in the Latin American Development Priorities: Cost and Benefits book by Cambridge University Press. 

Short Summary

Today, the countries of Latin America confront numerous challenges to the quality of their democracies.  A 2006 Survey conducted by the Research Department (RES) at the Inter-American Development Bank evaluated challenges faced by Latin America in sixteen thematic areas, one of which was democracy.

Among the sixteen challenge areas, Democracy was considered by the respondents to represent one of the top ten challenges faced by the region.  This survey evaluated six principal challenges to democracy in the region.  These challenges, are (in order of importance for the survey respondents): "Little real enforcement of rules and accountability for politicians", "Weak democratic culture," "Crisis of representation,""Political intimidation and violence," "Traditional parties losing traditionalconstituencies," and "No real separation of powers."

The challenges that democracies of Latin America face today are very real, and quite daunting.  However, when discussing these challenges, and any solutions to these challenges, we must be cognizant of the considerable diversity in the objective conditions of the democracies of the region.  As such, the extent and nature of any specific challenge varies considerably depending on the country in question.  Therefore any solution offered to a challenge will vary in many important respects depending on country specific factors.