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A Blessing or a Curse? Recall Referendum and Local Welfare in the Andean Countries

Democracy
Latin America
Referendums and Initiatives
Welfare State
Yanina Welp
Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies
Yanina Welp
Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies
Juan Pablo Milanese
Universidad Icesi

Abstract

The recall referendum is defined as a mechanism of direct democracy (MDD) which allows for the removal of elected officials from office before the end of their term by a popular vote. It can be direct, when the people collect signatures to activate the vote, as a 'bottom-up' MDD; or alternatively, it can be indirect, when the legislature starts the process which ends with the popular ratification or rejection, as a 'top down' MDD. It used to be a rare institution but since the nineties has been introduced in many countries of the world as a solution to the ‘democratic malaise’ given that it is expected to increase accountability in the short run and responsiveness in the middle term. Research has focused on understanding patterns of activations, but scant work deals with outcomes. In this paper we investigate to what extent recall activations can be associated with lower per capita income and or be connected to clientelist networks. Other issues such relatively low voter turnouts or the threat of (potential) discrimination against certain minorities will be considered. The study will focus on the comparative study of the last wave of attempts registered in Ecuador, Colombia and Peru.