Participatory Institutions in Latin America: What is Left after the Left?

Prof. Thamy Pogrebinschi

Until few years ago, participatory institutions seemed to spread all over Latin America while increasingly capturing both the attention and the optimism of democracy scholars. A large amount of research has been done on the new institutions for citizen participation, some of which demonstrating how they managed to successfully impact on policies and improve well-being, among other evidences of their democratic role.

Although it is arguable whether left parties have been the sole or main promoter of participatory institutions in Latin America, the end of the pink tide and the surge of a conservative turn coincide with indications of democratic recession in the region, among which a retreat of participatory channels in several countries. On the other hand, the new political conditions also coincide with the rise of other less institutionalized forms of citizen participation in diverse areas.

This paper aims to discuss citizen participation and democratic innovation in Latin America by assessing the gains and losses of the previous participatory wave and reflecting on recent trends in the region. It will draw on data from the LATINNO dataset and comparative case studies from four countries.