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2004 April 29 Thursday
People In Latin America Distrust Democracy

The United Nations Development Programme (really, they use a British spelling of "program" with the haughty French affectation) has released a report on attitudes toward democracy in Latin America entitled Democracy in Latin America: Toward a Citizens' Democracy. The press release on it has some bad news about the popular dissatisfaction with democracy in Latin America.

  • Just 43% of Latin Americans are fully supportive of democracy, while 30.5% express ambivalence and 26.5% hold non-democratic views, according to opinion surveys conducted for the report in 18 countries in the region; more than half of all Latin Americans-54.7 percent-say they would support an "authoritarian" regime over "democratic" government if authoritarianism rule could "resolve" their economic problems.
  • Since 2000, four elected presidents in the 18 countries studied were forced to quit before the end of their terms following steep drops in public support.
  • The first generation of Latin Americans to come of age in functioning democracies has experienced virtually no per capita income growth and widening, world-record disparities in the distribution of national income; in 2003, 225 million Latin Americans had incomes below the poverty line.
  • 59% of the political leaders consulted for the report said political parties are failing to fulfill their necessary role.

Former Peruvian dictator Alberto Fujimori may win election as President of Peru.

More than 60 percent cited unemployment, low wages, and poverty as the region's main problems. "There is less support for democracy here than in any other region in the world," says Mr. Caputo. "Democracy in Latin America is at risk. Intuition indicates that there are dangers, and our data confirms it."

This may explain why Alberto Fujimori, Peru's former hard-line president, is leading polls in a crowded field of potential candidates. And more than 60 percent of Colombians support President Alvaro Uribe - who has taken tough tactics against the country's guerrillas - and his push to change the Constitution so he can run for a second term.

Lots of Latin Americans sell their votes.

Across the region, 7 percent of Latin Americans surveyed said they had been "pressured" to vote for a certain candidate or had effectively sold their votes in the most recent presidential election in their country. The highest degree of such electoral fraud was in Brazil (13 percent), followed by Venezuela and Mexico (12 percent).

Latin America is split between a mostly Amerind lower class (black as well in some countries) against a Spanish white upper class. Latin America therefore fits the pattern of having a market dominant minority. Amy Chua has explained why the presence of market-dominant minorities causes strife and undermines the basis the belief in common interests in government and a societal order. Current immigration trends threaten to make the white market dominant majority into the market dominant minority in the United States some time in the next 50 years. The most likely result is that the US will develop a racial caste system similar to the racial caste system of Mexico. Along with that will come a declining trust in democracy along with a decline in civic involvement in much of the US population.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2004 April 29 11:42 PM  Culture Compared


Comments
jj 4480 said at February 3, 2006 10:37 PM:

I wonder what kind of democracy the latin americans do not want. Is it a 'true'democracy, or the kind of faulty democracy that they have been experiencing, here:
Across the region, 7 percent of Latin Americans surveyed said they had been "pressured" to vote for a certain candidate or had effectively sold their votes in the most recent presidential election in their country. The highest degree of such electoral fraud was in Brazil (13 percent), followed by Venezuela and Mexico (12 percent).


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