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Lecture

POLS 2950 ARTICLE TERM 2.docx

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Department
Social Science
Course
SOSC 3210
Professor
Jennifer Stephen
Semester
Fall

Description
Zabina Popal POLS 2940 Populism, Socialism and Democratic Institutions By: Hector E Schamis In rapid succession, leftwing parties and leaders have been elected to government in some of the most important countries in the LatinAmerican region.Although the underlying social forces at work began earlier, the electoral shifts started with the election of President Hugo Chavez in Venezuela in 1998, followed by the 1999-2000 election of President Ricardo Lagos, who led the Socialist Party of Chile, a member of the Coalition of Parties for Democracy to victory in Chile. The Workers’Party leader Luiz Inacio ‘Lula’ da Silva won election in Brazil in 2002, and was re-elected to a second term in office in October 2006. In the Southern Cone, leftwing Peronist leader Nestor Kirchner (of the Partido Justicialista) was elected inArgentina in 2003, followed by Tabare Vasquez who led Broad Front to victory in Uruguay in 2004. According to Hector E. Schamis, ‘all left-wing parties in LatinAmerica invoke the aspiration for a more egalitarian capitalism and a more inclusive political system...’ This suggests that Latin American leftwing forces repudiate inequality, unfettered markets, and the exclusion of marginalized groups. In contrast to the neoliberal faith in trickle- down economics, the left is defined by a commitment to the idea that neither full citizenship nor high levels of human development can be achieved without overcoming extreme poverty and inequality, and that the barriers to participation created by discrimination, neglect, and other legacies of colonialism, often exacerbated by neoliberal policies, constitute an intolerable limit on democratic life. There is, however, less agreement on how to characterize differences within the left. Schamis notes that ‘the political landscape is far more diverse’than the ‘similar discourse’of the left in LatinAmerica might suggest. The distinction between populism and social democracy derives plausibility from differences between leaders in the region that are largely an artifact of the countries they govern. It is obvious that Chavez is harsher than Bachelet, and that Morales is more radical than Lula. Beyond the personal traits of the leaders, this reflects, however, differences between the Southern Cone and theAndes. As a result, even when analysts disagree with Castaneda, they often wind up appearing to accept or refine his classification of cases. For example, Schamis lauds Castaneda for taking ‘a step in the right direction’but argues for ‘further differentiation’to ‘account for the various lefts that have emerged in LatinAmerica’s recent past’. He distingui
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