Pols241 Week 4 readings part 2 Chapter 6 in Textbook (Political Crafting of Democratic Consolidation or
Destruction: European and South American Comparisons)
Socioeconomic Efficacy and Regime Legitimacy: the Political “Processing of Adversity”
In the new Democracies of Latin America there is some pessimism about this point because the
region is living through a severe economic crisis and many of the intellectual leaders believe that
socioeconomic efficacy and democratic legitimacy are very tightly coupled.
Perceptions of a regime’s socioeconomic efficacy are less tightly coupled to perceptions of a
regimes democratic legitimacy than is commonly supposed.
There are a number of reasons why democratic legitimacy is thought to be separate from
perceptions of socioeconomic efficacy.
o 1) Claims to ruling authority based on democratic procedural origins rather than on
o 2) citizens perceptions about the past and their worries about the future.
The high bourgeoisie and working class care about being protected from
personal human rights abuses.
A regime in which state behavior is constrained by a rule of law is a vital asset in
a new democracy.
The more that alternative, non-democratic legitimacy options are not available to dispel serious
doubts about their potential respect for personal freedoms, the more the existing democratic
regime will be perceived by citizens as the most appropriate political formula for the country.
o The economic situation of Spain deteriorated under democracy
The tightly coupled hypothesis would lead us to predict a corresponding decline
in the legitimacy of Democracy.
As the table indicates, the data shows that for Spanish citizens there
was virtually no connection between the two.
As such, clearly in Spain other factors besides belief in economic and
social efficacy were powerfully affecting citizen’s beliefs about the best
political formula for the country.
The implication of the European experience for Lain America
o The post-Franco opinion polls and our analysis of interwar Europe lead us to believe that
the political perception of desired alternatives has a greater impact on the survival of
democratic regimes than economic and social problems per se.
The economic crisis of the 1930s was felt throughout Europe
It was a period of intense and creative political crafting in which new
coalitions and new policies were forged.
Part of the glue of post-world II European democracy for the left and right alike is that
procedural democracy allowed them to continue to struggle for the advancement of their
material interests in a context where there were procedural, constitutional, and legal
constraints on government and state behavior. One of the most important and interesting developments that occurred in Brazil, Uruguay and
Argentina as a result of the massive and unprecedented abuses of state power by the BA
regimes in these states was the increased valorization of democracy as an important end that
needed to be protected in and for itself.
o In the past, important parts of the left attached only an instrumental value to
democracy. It was a vehicle to be used in pursuit of other goals.
Much of the Bourgeoisie in Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina emerged from the recent bureaucratic
authoritarian experience with new worries about their ability to control authoritarian regimes.
o Learned from personal experience that the states repressive apparatus was difficult for
them to contain. In Argentina many upper-class and middle class families were drawn
into the vortex of indiscriminate and criminal state terrorism against which social
contacts and economic influences were powerless.
One of the tasks of the democratic forces is to deepen the collective memory of the reality of
these recent authoritarian political pasts. Another task of the democratic force is to make
citizens acutely aware that attacks on the democratic regime could pave the way for an
authoritarian political future in which no personal or institutional guarantees against state
abuses are ensured.
Control of the Means of Force in Democratic Polities
the management of Non-State Violence
o A widespread worry In Latin America is that the military have a very low tolerance for
insurgent violent in a political system. Some argue that is it important that the state
should use whatever means necessary if it arises.
However, implies giving the military a free hand in suppression.
o Guerilla violence, like economic recession creates problems for a new democratic
regime. However, the most important variable is the way the political system processes
the facts of guerilla and political violence.
o Ex. Spanish Case
Despite a sharp increase in deaths due to Basque terrorists in the democratic
period, the general belief in the legitimacy of democracy in Spain stayed at a
very high level and in fact grew between 1979 and 1983.
A complex series of political actions and attitudes helped to minimize
the negative consequences of the growing violence by Basque
separatists on the new Spanish democracy.
Not one single national political party chose to use the deaths
associated with the Basque issue to attempt to delegitimize the
o Instead the democratic government tried to make sure that the