Making the Absent Present
The development of digital technologies can facilitate the representation of minorities in politics, as the Brazilian experience illustrates.
This article was published in the independent magazine openDemocracy/Democracia Abierta on March 3rd, 2021 and is available in Spanish and Portuguese.
Thirty Years of Democratic Innovations in Latin America
Since most countries in Latin America transitioned to democracy about 30 years ago, the region has witnessed a continuous flourishing of institutions, mechanisms, and processes aimed at enhancing democracy through citizen participation. Those democratic innovations, created by governments and civil society alike, constitute a landscape of political experimentation which is integral to Latin America’s democracy, and should not be ignored by the indices that assess democracy in the region. This conviction led me to design LATINNO to enable scholars, practitioners, and policy makers to map, measure, and compare democratic innovations across Latin America. The LATINNO database comprises 3,744 institutions, processes, and mechanisms involving citizen participation which were created in 18 Latin American countries between 1990 and 2020. It is the first and so far the most comprehensive and systematic source of knowledge on democratic innovations evolved in Latin America. This final report completes LATINNO’s five years of work and comprises three parts. The first part introduces the project, its analytical framework, methodology, and the dataset. The second part highlights some results, trends, and recommendations that draw on the LATINNO data. Finally, the third part presents a brief narrative of how democratic innovations have evolved in each of the 18 countries investigated, underlining some of the relevant cases contained in the dataset.
The report is available in English, Spanish and Portugese.
Might social intelligence save Latin America from its governments in times of Covid-19?
Digital democratic innovation as a response to Covid-19 puts on the table the need for governments to rely on society to advance solutions to new and complex problems.
(This article was originally published in the independent magazine openDemocracy/Democracia Abierta on August 18, 2020 and is also available in German here).> Download
Democratic innovations in Latin America
This chapter aims at elucidating the rich diversity of democratic innovations that have evolved in Latin America during the past three decades. It accounts for historical and political processes that contributed to the expansion of citizen participation in the region, as well as for single country narratives that compose the landscape in which new institutions, processes, and practices for citizen participation were able to take root. We provide examples of emblematic democratic innovations in several countries, which can be said to have had some impact. In conclusion, we argue that if Latin America has a lesson to offer regarding democratic innovation it is that experimentation and institutionalisation should coexist
This is a chapter of the Handbook of Democratic Innovation and Governance. It is available online here.
LATINNO's methodological approach for researching democratic innovations. Contributions and challenges.
7/2019This article presents some of the conceptual and methodological contributions of the LATINNO Project for reasearch on democratic innovations and citizen participation. First, it discusses the gaps in existing research that originated the project's inquiries. Secondly, it presents the methodological framework and the original contributions that allowed for the identification and registration of comparable data on the context, institutional design and impact of over 2,600 cases. Thirdly, it discusses the challenges encountered in the evaluation of innovations' impact. Finally, it engages in drafting some directions for the development of a common research agenda for the region which can take advantage of the data gathered by the LATINNO database.(Article available only in Spanish)> Download
Can participatory governance improve the quality of democracy? A response from Latin America
This chapter was published as part of the Handbook on Participatory Governance.> Download
Moving Backwards: What Happened to Citizen Participation in Brazil?
Where participation depends on governments, civil society can’t do much to redeem democracy from the flaws of elections and the bias of parties.
(This article was originally published in the independent magazine openDemocracy/Democracia Abierta on November 30th, 2017)> Download
Truth, memory and democracy in Latin America
For collective remembrance of crimes to go beyond storytelling and momentary indignation, citizens should be involved in the ideation, creation and dissemination of memory.
(This article was originally published in the independent magazine openDemocracy/Democracia Abierta on September 26th, 2017)> Download
Innovating Democracy in Latin America
The LATINNO Project aims at making democratic innovations measurable and comparable, allowing for assessments of their actual role and impact on democracy in Latin America
This article was originally published in the independent online magazine www.opendemocracy.net, on August 15, 2017.> Download
More Participation, Greater Responsiveness? National Public Policy Conferences and the Quality of Democracy in Brazil
Using the dimension of responsiveness as its object of investigation, the following article aims to determine whether democratic innovations can enhance the quality of democracy by increasing society’s participation. By proposing an analytical model for the concept across three levels (impact on public policies, thematic congruence, and the multi-dimensional nature of participation), the article seeks to examine whether National Public Policy Conferences increased responsiveness in the Brazilian Legislature. To do so, it analyzes the reception in the Brazilian Legislature of the demands made in the National Conferences from 2003 to 2010, using descriptive analyses and logistic regression models to evaluate each of the three dimensions of the concept proposed.
(Article available only in Portuguese)
Digital Innovation in Latin America: How Brazil, Colombia, Mexico and Peru have been experimenting with E-participation
Overcoming state dependence may be crucial for digital innovations to transform democracy by engaging more citizens in the political process.
*This article was originally published in the independent online magazine www.opendemocracy.net, on June 6, 2017.> Download
Moving beyond input legitimacy: When do democratic innovations affect policy making?
This article makes three key contributions to debates surrounding the effectiveness of democratic innovation, deliberation and participation in representative political systems. In the first instance, it argues that more attention should be paid to the role that participation actually plays in governance. The literature on democratic institutional design often neglects concern about the effects of innovative institutional designs on more traditional representative fora, at the expense of concerns about their internal procedures. Second, the article argues that despite limitations, replicable systematic comparison of the effects of institutional design is both necessary and possible even at the level of national governance. A comparative analysis of 31 cases of National Public Policy Conferences (NPPCs) in Brazil is presented. Finally, the article shows that popular deliberative assemblies that vary in their familiarity and their policy area of interest, and that organise their structure and sequence deliberation in different ways can be associated with differential effects on both option analysis and option selection stages of the policy process, respectively.> Download
Latin America: democracy beyond representation
WZB (Berlin Social Science Center)-based Brazilian researcher Thamy Pogrebinschi talks to DemocraciaAbierta ahead of LATINNO’s research project presentation in Berlin, on the 27th of June.
This article was originally published in the independent magazine openDemocracy/Democracia Abierta on June 21st, 2017.> Download
Does digital democracy improve democracy?
The article argues that the game-changer for democracy is not the revitalization of the traditional means of political participation like elections, petition-signing and protests through digital tools. Rather, the real change on how democracy works, governments rule, and representation is delivered, comes from entirely new means of e-participation, or the so-called digital democratic innovations.
Can Democratic Innovations Improve the Quality of Democracy? A Response from Latin America
Assessing the quality of democracy became a central concern in a landscape of increasing political disaffection and disenchantment with democratic institutions. Regardless of various existing explanations for the perceived decline of public trust in institutions like parties and parliaments (Dalton 2003; Inglehart 1997; Norris 2002), the conviction that reforms are necessary is shared by scholars and governments alike (Dalton, Scarrow and Cain 2003). What is not yet clear, however, is which model of “good democracy” can better countervail political disillusionment and enhance the quality of democracy everywhere it has grown roots.> Download
The Impact of Participatory Democracy: Evidence from Brazil's National Public Policy Conferences
Political theorists and empirical scholars have long assumed that democracy and participation are necessarily in tension. Partly for this reason, research on participatory democracy has focused on “mini-publics”—relatively small-scale and/or local practices. Through an exploration of Brazil's National Public Policy Conferences, we provide the first evidence that participatory governance practices can directly shape important national public policy outcomes at the national level. Our findings call into question the longstanding critique that participatory practices are impractical on a large scale and thus unimportant to the overall functioning and quality of democracy. We find that participatory practices can deepen democratic regimes by opening the doors for greater and more direct civil society input into the substantive content of national governance.> Download
The Pragmatic Turn of Democracy in Latin America
The new democracies of Latin America that emerged with the third wave of democratization have now completed their transitions and have reached an advanced stage of their consolidation processes, despite some delays caused by clientelism, corruption, populism and the other alleged ‘deficiencies’ taken as indicative of imperfect institutionalization and inadequate government performance (Diamond, Hartlyn, Linz and Lipset 1999; Merkel 2004). According to the literature, the supposed inability of Latin American governments to promote growth and development, reduce poverty and inequality, and control inflation and crime explain their successive failures (Fox 1994; Mainwaring 1999; Hagopian and Mainwaring 2005) and is a symptom of a poor state performance that affected citizens’ trust in political institutions and led to a crisis of representation in the region (Mainwaring 2006).> Download
The squared circle of participatory democracy: scaling up deliberation to the national level
Can participation be scaled up to the national level? And if so, can large-scale participation be attained without forfeiting deliberation? This article addresses these two questions, providing empirical evidence that deliberation can be scaled up, together with participation, and manage to impact on national-level policies. It argues that participation can be feasible at the national level, and that deliberation can be effective on a large scale, once the appropriate institutional design is in place. A theoretical framework composed of two overlapping dimensions (feasibility and effectiveness) is proposed to assess the degree to which participation and deliberation can be scaled up. As for the feasibility of large-scale participation, the article argues that the institutional design of participatory experiments should allow participation to be scaled up according to three criteria: actors, space, and volume. As for the effectiveness of deliberation, it is argued that large participatory experiments should provide for the deliberative process to follow criteria of transformation and impact in order to scale up local preferences to the national level and make sure they affect policy outcomes. The theoretical framework is tested against the empirical background of the world’s largest participatory and deliberative experiment known to date, the National Public Policy Conferences in Brazil.> Download