One of the most salient political issues in most Latin American countries is the prevalence of corruption and the difficulty of forcing state agents to follow the rule of law. This new book of interesting essays and sometimes spirited disagreements further advances understanding of these important issues.
Reports of scandal and corruption have led to the downfall of numerous political leaders in Latin America in recent years. What conditions have developed that allow for the exposure of wrongdoing and the accountability of leaders? Enforcing the Rule of Law examines how elected officials in Latin American democracies have come under scrutiny from new forms of political control, and how these social accountability mechanisms have been successful in counteracting corruption and the limitations of established institutions. This volume reveals how legal claims, media interventions, civic organizations, citizen committees, electoral observation panels, and other watchdog groups have become effective tools for monitoring political authorities. Their actions have been instrumental in exposing government crime, bringing new issues to the public agenda, and influencing or even reversing policy decisions. Enforcing the Rule of Law presents compelling accounts of the emergence of civic action movements and their increasing political influence in Latin America, and sheds new light on the state of democracy in the region.
In contrast to recent research on Latin American democracy focusing on the weakness of formal institutions and the undemocratic quality of informal politics, Enforcing the Rule of Law reminds us that civil society and the media play important roles in enhancing democratic governance. Theoretically nuanced and empirically rich, the book will stimulate debate about the sources of democratic governance not only in Latin America, but wherever problems of accountability arise.
Enforcing the Rule of Law goes beyond the 'usual suspects' found in more formal, elite and central-government-centered analyses. It contains provocative and original research on politics in the streets and plazas, neighborhoods, provinces, assembly halls, courtrooms, polling stations, newsrooms, television and radio stations of the region. It should be required reading for anyone interested in the quality and trajectories of Latin American democracies.
This insightful and agenda-setting collection provides a robust empirical and conceptual platform for taking on this challenging analytical question.
Enrique Peruzzotti is professor in the Department of Political Science and International Studies at Torcuato Di Tella University in Buenos Aires. He is coeditor, with Catalina Smulovitz, of Controlando la Politica: Ciudadanos y Medios en las Nuevas Democracias Latino Americanas. He has published articles in numerous journals including Journal of Democracy, Journal of Latin American Studies, and Constellations.
Catalina Smulovitz is director of the Department of Political Science and International Studies at Torcuato Di Tella University in Buenos Aires. She is the author of Oposición y Gobierno. Los Años de Frondizi. Her articles have appeared in La Nueva Matriz Política Argentina, Journal of Democracy, Desarrollo Económico, and Agora.