ECPR General Conference
University of Wrocław, Wrocław
4 - 7 September 2019




Social Movements, Political Parties and Neoliberalism: Challenges and Alternatives for Latin America

Civil Society
 
Comparative Politics
 
Governance
 
Latin America
 
Political Participation
 
Political Parties
 
Public Policy
 
Policy-Making
 
Section Number
S56
Section Chair
Valesca Lima
University College Dublin
Section Co-Chair
Diana Lucia Davila Gordillo
Departments of Political Science and Public Administration, Universiteit Leiden

Abstract
Against the backdrop of the 'Turn to the Left' in Latin America, we are now witnessing the overwhelming rise of conservative movements in the region. While center-left parties consolidated links with civil society and adopted anti-neoliberal stand projects that decisively shaped national policies such as Evo Morales’ MAS, in Bolivia, the rise of the Right and return of the international neoliberal agenda shows that neoliberalism is not just an economic policy regime, but also a political project. The victories of the conservatives Sebastián Piñera in Chile, Mauricio Macri in Argentina, and Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil confirmed the continent's turn to the right. Conservative views and measures have emerged from such governments, arguing that previous arrangements to promoted citizen participation and social spending were too costly and lacked transparency. This has led to social cuts that affect the more vulnerable population in Latin America. In addition, Venezuelans’ exodus highlight the shortcomings of the once strong chavista government. This has fostered a debate about the increased poverty level, mass migration, hate speech, the dismantling of citizen participation bodies and political violence amongst scholars that study the region. A more careful look at this phenomenon, especially in a phase in which authoritarianism is on the rise, is required. This should specially focus on how recent events could affect the commitment of Latin American governments to the collective defense of democracy.

In this section, we want to enable the discussion of what we know about the changes in public policy, participation, democratization and political parties brought about by Latin America recent turn to Right. Moreover, we will advance the debate about what are the challenges and alternatives for Latin America in the context of neoliberalism and economic crisis. In this way, this Section intends to address various aspects of the Latin American politics, such as (but not limited to): design and impact of public policies, the empowering neoliberal business elites, land reform, citizenship, expansion and retraction of social rights, party systems, party-voter linkages, authoritarianism and political violence; understood through a set of theoretical and methodological approaches that build bridges between the diverse areas within political sciences.

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"History is past politics, and politics is past history" - E.A. Freeman


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