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Democratic Innovation and Democratic Quality in Latin America

Democracy
Interest Groups
Latin America
Political Participation
Michael Stoiber
FernUniversität in Hagen
Marie-Sophie Heinelt
FernUniversität in Hagen
Michael Stoiber
FernUniversität in Hagen
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Abstract

Latin America is considered as a vanguard region regarding an array of alternative forms of democratic means – or democratic innovations – that has been constitutionally established in many states. There are participatory measures like consultation and veto rights, different forms of functional and territorial autonomy arrangements, and instruments favoring particular groups like reserved seats in the legislature for minorities. We want to examine a certain set of paradigmatic cases of these democratic innovations: those that were particularly designed to advance political inclusion of minority groups. Our endeavor is driven by the hypothesis that institutional innovation by itself does not automatically lead to more democratic quality; it must also yield potential to be used effectively. For a thorough evaluation one furthermore has to consider given organizational features of target groups as well as feasible structural restrains, and even identity based perceptions of groups to be included. Following this idea derived from a model to measure democratic quality (Stoiber 2011), we will have a closer look on the institutional features of democratic innovations in Bolivia, Nicaragua and Colombia. We will test whether addressed groups can use these procedures effectively, hence enhancing democratic quality or not. Crucial for our evaluation will be the integration of variables on two supplementary levels which might prevent new institutional settings to become fruitful; i.e. assessing (a) for organizational capabilities and influential structural mechanisms (f.i. informal processes) which can delimitate democratic quality, (b) just as for citizen actions and attitudes.