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Heterogeneity, Participation and Democratic Quality in Latin America: A Comparison between Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru

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image of Comparative Sociology
For content published from 1960-2001, see International Journal of Comparative Sociology.

AbstractSocietal and economic heterogeneity are regarded as a challenge to the functioning of democracies. We integrate this problem as context variables into a model of evaluating the quality of democracy. The context determines the optimal composition of participation structures. This demand has to be confronted with the given structure and its effectiveness.We discuss the problem of effective participation for Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru, which share similar problems regarding economic inequality and societal heterogeneity. Our main aim is to analyze how different institutional settings are enabling citizens, particularly minorities, in the decision making process and how these elements affect democratic stability and the quality of democracy.We deduce the demand for differentiated participation structures from the societal and institutional context and qualitatively compare the effectiveness of the given participation structures. We analyze how the deficits in the institutional arrangements and their effectiveness affect the democratic quality and the democratic stability of the systems. We find that overlapping societal and socio-economic heterogeneity can be considered as especially threatening to democratic consolidation and stability.


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