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  • Author: Sebastian Etchemendy, Puente Ignacio
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: In the early 1980s Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico had commer- cial banking sectors that were dominated by local banks. The largest countries in Latin America were subjected to common international economic pressures during both the neoliberal 1980s and 1990s – includ- ing the expansion of capital markets in the periphery and integration into the regional trade agreements NAFTA and Mercosur – and the post- 1998 financial turmoil. By 2015, however, the three countries had con- solidated alternative commercial banking systems: domestic private group dominated (Brazil), mixed (i.e., ownership more evenly divided among public, private domestic, and foreign banks (Argentina), and foreign bank dominated (Mexico). The article traces these alternative outcomes to the power of prereform private financial groups, the viru- lence of “twin crises” in the transition from fixed to floating exchange rates, and the (contingent) role played by government ideology.
  • Topic: Regional Cooperation, Finance, Trade, Banking
  • Political Geography: Brazil, Argentina, South America, Latin America, North America, Mexico
  • Author: Anibal F. Gauna
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: This article examines the issue of democratic deterioration by revisiting the Venezuelan case (1974–1998). Using sequence elaboration and alternative case-focused theories, it tests and confirms the hypothesis that presidential partyarchy was the main contextual explanatory factor behind the crisis that led to Venezuela’s democratic deterioration. Building on elite conflict theory, it also aims to integrate previous studies’ insights and better explain the timing of factors to illustrate how economic presidentialism (the highly autonomous executive control of a state-controlled economy) was the main mechanism leading to democratic deterioration.
  • Topic: Economics, Authoritarianism, Democracy, State-Owned Enterprises
  • Political Geography: South America, Latin America, Venezuela
  • Author: Laura Ross Blume
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: Between 2005 and 2015, organized criminal groups murdered 209 politicians in Mexico. This paper explains why. It argues that the two interwoven trends of political and criminal pluralization in Mexico fostered the conditions for a new type of criminal violence against politicians. Mexican politicians are now targeted for accepting illicit money as well as for standing up to criminals. Moreover, this violence is evidence of an alarming and persistent pattern in Mexico of politicians enlisting criminal organizations to eliminate their political competition. Using a zero-inflated negative binomial model, this paper shows there is a strong statistical relationship between the increase in assassinations and the increases in political pluralization and criminal fragmentation. The article concludes that the failure to protect local public officials creates greater opportunities for the emergence of subnational authoritarian enclaves and threatens democratic consolidation.
  • Topic: Crime, Authoritarianism, Democracy, Assassination, Organized Crime
  • Political Geography: Latin America, North America, Mexico
  • Author: Lucas Gonzalez
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: What is the effect of political competition on subnational social spending? Using descriptive statistics and regression models for original budget panel data for the 24 Argentine provinces between 1993 and 2009, the study finds that social spending increases the more electorally secure governors are and the longer they have been in office. It also finds that other arguments in the literature are relevant in explaining variations on types of spending, such as partisan fragmentation in the districts. The article discusses these findings for the Argentine provinces and explores their implications with regard to the debates on the effects of electoral competition and the design of social policies, especially in developing countries and federal democracies.
  • Topic: Developing World, Elections, Democracy, Local, Social Spending
  • Political Geography: Argentina, South America, Latin America
  • Author: Convadonga Meseguer, Jaupart Pascal, Javier Aparicio
  • Publication Date: 06-2017
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: We explore how the reception of remittances affects perceptions of the bilateral relationship between Mexico and the United States. Scholars have claimed that the economic benefits of the relationship with the US prevail over imperialistic concerns as a result of the asymmetry of power between the two countries. Empirical research shows that Latin American public opinion is indeed more supportive of the US than theory indicates. However, we identify two gaps in this literature. First, scholars have explored the determinants of generic expressions of sentiment toward the US, overlooking more concrete instances of cooperation between the two countries. Second, scholars have focused on trade and investment and have ignored how the material gains of emigration shape attitudes toward the US. The present paper fills these two gaps by using novel survey data on the bilateral relationship between Mexico and the US. On one hand, we find that while the reception of remittances correlates positively with good sentiments toward the US, the recipients of remittances are consistently more opposed to cooperation with the US in the fight against drug trafficking. We argue that this finding can be explained by the different nature of the migratory phenomenon, and the connection between anti-drug trafficking policies and the close scrutiny of illegal flows of money and people.
  • Topic: Imperialism, Migration, Regional Cooperation, Bilateral Relations, Trafficking , Borders, Drugs
  • Political Geography: United States, Latin America, North America, Mexico
  • Author: Ronald Ahnen
  • Publication Date: 06-2017
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: The success of microcredit lending programs depends in part on the regulatory framework that policymakers create to support them. A fact that many microcredit analyses often ignore or overlook is that this framework is shaped by both ideological and partisan political considerations of policymakers. In Argentina, the Peronist governments of Néstor and Cristina Kirchner launched and supported a state-centered microcredit program characterized by strict loan conditions and direct state grants for capital and operational costs to existing non-profit organizations that were largely supportive of Peronism. Provinces and municipalities governed by anti-Peronists refused to participate. As a result, the National Microcredit Program has come to mimic past patronage based policies to a significant extent, engendering dependency on government resources, and thereby threatening its long-term viability. This article explores the impact of the left’s ideological and political project on microcredit policy, implementation, and outcomes in Argentina.
  • Topic: Regulation, Microcredit, Leftist Politics, Credit
  • Political Geography: Argentina, South America, Latin America
  • Publication Date: 06-2017
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: We examine the electoral alliances between two Mexican political parties – the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI) and the Partido Verde Ecologista de México (PVEM). Despite the PRI’s electoral dominance, it has entered into preelection agreements with the PVEM since 2003. These electoral pacts are unusual for several reasons: the parties do not share an ideology; their bases of support come from different social sectors; and the PRI’s survival as a party does not depend on these pacts. Using electoral data from 2006 to 2015, we examine the electoral districts in which the PRI and the PVEM ran joint candidates in federal legislative elections. We find that the ultimate goals of each party, their past electoral performances at the legislative district level, and the presence of PRI–PVEM alliances in gubernatorial elections explain the parties’ choices to collaborate in certain districts. Our findings have important implications for understanding the behavior of parties in newer democracies.
  • Topic: Elections, Legislation, Local, Domestic Policy, Party System
  • Political Geography: Latin America, North America, Mexico
  • Author: Emilia Simison
  • Publication Date: 06-2017
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: This paper studies the territorial scope of the bills presented by members of the Chamber of Deputies (the lower chamber of the Argentine National Congress) during Juan Domingo Perón’s first two terms in office (1946–1955). Its main objective is to observe the effect that modifying the electoral system (switching from incomplete party ballots in multimember districts to relative majorities in single-member districts) had on that scope. Experimental techniques (an interrupted time-series and a within-subjects design) are used to analyze a novel database including every bill presented in the Chamber of Deputies during the period in question. Contrary to theoretical expectations, an increase is observed in the share of bills with a territorial scope that goes beyond deputies’ districts – especially for those presented by legislators from the opposition and from larger provinces. In addition, by separately analyzing the effect on the ruling party and the opposition, the paper uncovers a plausible explanation for previous nonconclusive findings.
  • Topic: Nationalism, Domestic politics, Legislation, Local
  • Political Geography: Argentina, South America, Latin America
  • Author: David Pion-Berlin, Miguel Carreras
  • Publication Date: 08-2017
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: Over the past two decades, the armed forces have increasingly been asked to take an active role in the fight against the rampant crime in Latin America. Since the militaries in this region are not always trained to conduct themselves with restraint, the possibility of excesses and human rights violations is always latent. Despite that prospect, there is a high level of public support for military counter-crime interventions throughout the region. The key argument in this article is that when the Latin American public supports military interventions to combat crime, it makes a comparative judgment call about the relative efficacy of military vs. police conduct in domestic security roles. Latin American citizens have very low confidence in the capacity of the police to fight crime effectively and to respect human rights. They place more trust in the armed forces as an institution capable of performing effectively and in accordance with human rights standards and the rule of law. This study develops these arguments in greater detail and then turns to recent Americas Barometer surveys that clearly show that Latin American citizens place more trust in the armed forces than the police as an institution capable of effectively and humanely fighting criminal violence.
  • Topic: Crime, Law Enforcement, Police, Armed Conflict
  • Political Geography: South America, Latin America, North America
  • Author: Jacobo Grajales
  • Publication Date: 08-2017
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: The article examines the links between paramilitary groups and the Colombian state within a context of pervasive violence. Colombia represents a particularly interesting case as high-intensity violence is accompanied by the preservation of a relatively strong institutional framework. Most interpretations of this relationship consider it to be either a sign of state weakness or a centralized strategy to outsource violence. Taking a different stance, the paper argues that the existence of paramilitary groups compels us to analyze government through practices vis-à-vis the treatment of violence. A policy linking private security and counterinsurgency, crafted in the early 1990s and known as Convivir, provides an illustration of this approach.
  • Topic: Security, Counterinsurgency, State Violence, Violence, Paramilitary
  • Political Geography: Colombia, South America, Latin America
  • Author: Adrian Lucardi, Maria Gabriela Almaraz
  • Publication Date: 08-2017
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: How do incumbents manage to relax term limits when they cannot impose their preferences unilaterally? Interpreting constitutional reforms as a bargaining game between a term-limited executive and the opposition, we argue that reforms involving term limits should be more likely when (a) the incumbent party can change the constitution unilaterally, or (b) the opposition is pessimistic about its future electoral prospects; moreover, (c) this second effect should be stronger when a single opposition party has veto power over a reform because this precludes the executive from playing a “divide-and-rule” strategy. We examine these claims with data from the Argentine provinces between 1983 and 2017. In line with expectations, the results show that the probability of initiating a reform is highest when the executive’s party controls a supermajority of seats, but falls sharply when a single opposition party has veto power over a reform and this party expects to do well in the next executive election.
  • Topic: Reform, Domestic politics, Institutionalism, Local, Term Limits
  • Political Geography: Argentina, South America, Latin America
  • Author: Erica Frantz, Barbara Geddes
  • Publication Date: 04-2016
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: When dictators seize power, they face a choice about how to deal with the pre-existing political parties. Some simply repress all par- ties, some ally themselves with one of the traditional parties and use it to help organize their rule, and others repress pre-existing parties but create a new party to support themselves. This study examines how these deci- sions affect the subsequent development of party systems after redemoc- ratization. Looking at the experience of Latin America, a region that has experienced its share of dictatorships, we show that dictators who allied with traditional parties or repressed existing ones have contributed to very stable party systems. By contrast, dictators who repressed the old parties but created a new one destabilized their countries’ party systems for some time after the return of democracy.
  • Topic: Authoritarianism, Democracy, Dictatorship, Party System
  • Political Geography: South America, Latin America, North America
  • Author: Malu A.C. Gatto, Timothy J. Power
  • Publication Date: 04-2016
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: We examine the distribution and consequences of postmaterialist value orientations among national legislators in Brazil. Using data collected in the Brazilian Legislative Survey in 2013, we undertake the first systematic study of postmaterialism within the National Congress and the party system and map the materialist/postmaterialist scale onto other salient divisions within the political class. We present five main findings. First, political elites evince vastly higher commitment to postmaterialism than the mass public. Second, Brazilian political elites drawn from constituencies with higher human development are more postmaterialist than their counterparts in other constituencies. Third, within the political class, the materialist/post- materialist cleavage overlaps in important ways with the left–right cleavage. Fourth, although postmaterialism successfully predicts elite attitudes on a number of “new politics” issues that are unrelated to the construction of the postmaterialist scale itself, postmaterialism is a poor predictor of voting behavior on the Congressional floor. Fifth, as others before us, we find institutional factors to be better predictors of legislative voting behavior in the Brazilian context.
  • Topic: Legislation, Elites, Postmaterialism , Political Class
  • Political Geography: Brazil, South America, Latin America
  • Author: Valentin Figueroa
  • Publication Date: 04-2016
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: In this paper, I use a slightly modified version of the Becker– Stigler model of corrupt behavior to explain bureaucratic political in- volvement. Since bureaucrats prefer higher rewards and not to support losing candidates, we expect them to become politically involved near elections – when rewards are expected to be higher, and information more abundant. Taking advantage of a natural experiment, I employ differences-in-means and differences-in-differences techniques to esti- mate the effect of electoral proximity on the political involvement of justices of the peace in the city of Buenos Aires in 1904. I find a large, positive, and highly local effect of electoral proximity on their political involvement, with no appreciable impact in the months before or after elections.
  • Topic: Corruption, Elections, Justice, Bureaucracy
  • Political Geography: Argentina, South America, Latin America
  • Author: Jean Francois Mayer
  • Publication Date: 04-2016
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: The literature addressing market dynamics typically assumes that reforming labor legislation has a direct impact on economic perfor- mance, the configuration of labor markets, and the strength of labor organizations. Within this literature one prevalent school of thought advocates flexibilizing labor laws as the key to creating economic pros- perity, enhancing labor productivity, increasing formal sector employ- ment, and successfully fighting poverty and socioeconomic inequality. I test these assumptions by analyzing the case of Brazil between 1995 and 2010. My findings suggest that reforms seeking to flexibilize the Brazilian labor code do not significantly change the country’s labor market or economy. I propose that transformations in international economic con- texts as well as differing policy orientations of successive Brazilian feder- al governments may hold more explanatory power in accounting for labor market changes during this time period.
  • Topic: Labor Issues, Reform, Employment, Legislation
  • Political Geography: Brazil, South America, Latin America
  • Author: Gilles Serra
  • Publication Date: 04-2016
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: Mexico’s consolidation strategy seems to be reaching a limit. The country’s transition from authoritarianism was largely based on a series of electoral reforms that leveled the playing field in elections. While this strategy was initially successful, it has failed to address several problems, especially in the electoral arena. This essay analyzes the preva- lence of two such problems, vote buying and illegal campaign finance, which are closely connected. I draw evidence from available accounts of the 2012 presidential election and subsequent contests in problematic states such as Tabasco. The outcomes of the midterm elections of June 2015 are also used to assess whether previous electoral reforms have provided effective solutions to the problems analyzed here. I suggest that no legal reform will be effective while these laws are only being weakly enforced. A more comprehensive package of measures strengthening the rule of law would help Mexico transition from electoral democracy to liberal democracy.
  • Topic: Authoritarianism, Elections, Rule of Law, Illiberal Democracy
  • Political Geography: Latin America, North America, Mexico
  • Author: Ivan Juca, Marcus Andre Melo, Lucio Renno
  • Publication Date: 08-2016
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: While corruption is widely disapproved of, some corrupt poli- ticians continue to win elections. We tackle this paradox by examining the effects of malfeasance scandals in politicians’ behavior. In particular, we focus on their campaign finance strategies and career choices. We explore these issues empirically with an original dataset that includes all lower-house members of Congress (MCs) in Brazil from 1995 to 2010. Although tainted incumbents tend to be penalized electorally, we show that campaign spending attenuates this effect. These results are robust, controlling for a host of potential confounders and biases. Hence, we offer a first exploration of incumbents’ strategies to avoid the electoral cost of their publicized wrongdoings. Above a certain threshold of fund- ing, Brazilian members of Congress become impervious to negative exposure, regardless of the severity of their ethical and/or criminal viola- tions. These results carry important normative consequences in terms of regulating campaign financing as a means of improving accountability.
  • Topic: Corruption, Legislation, Campaign Finance , Scandals
  • Political Geography: Brazil, South America, Latin America
  • Author: Lucinda Allyson Benton
  • Publication Date: 08-2016
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: Research on the impact of participatory institutions in Latin America has not yet examined how they work in authoritarian settings. Na- tional autocrats in Mexico implemented participatory reforms during that country’s national electoral authoritarian regime. Building on research on political decentralization in authoritarian regimes, I argue that participatory institutions can be used to channel citizen demands and to incorporate citi- zens into authoritarian systems, thereby strengthening authoritarian rule. However, following research on democratic participatory governance, I also argue that participatory institutions will work better in this regard when designed from the bottom up rather than from the top down. Statistical analysis of patterns of municipal-level electoral authoritarian support in Mexico shows that bottom-up-designed participatory institutions imple- mented during electoral authoritarian rule strengthened local political control to a greater extent than top-down-designed political systems. The study supports research revealing the anti-democratic effects of participatory insti- tutions in democratic Latin American nations.
  • Topic: Governance, Authoritarianism, Elections, Democracy
  • Political Geography: Latin America, North America, Mexico
  • Author: Monica Pachon, Gregg B. Johnson
  • Publication Date: 08-2016
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: This paper examines committee behavior in Colombia to determine whether parties or coalitions exert agenda-setting powers despite the fact that the formal rules seemingly create little incentive for cooperation. Colombia’s party system is extremely fragmented, electoral volatility is high, and there is a long history of candidate-centered elec- toral rules, all of which suggests that party and coalition leaders have few tools to control the legislative agenda. Additionally, chairs do not directly control committee reports as in other presidential cases. However, the naming of ponentes (rapporteurs) to write ponencias (bill reports) for the committee may give leaders the opportunity to set the agendas in com- mittees. Hence, we test whether committee chairs strategically name ponentes to control the agenda and favor their partisan or coalition inter- ests. We test these ideas using a unique dataset covering two complete legislative sessions and thousands of bills. Overall, we find that commit- tee chairs use the ponente process to set the agenda and privilege legisla- tion sponsored by allies, especially the executive.
  • Topic: Politics, Legislation, Decentralization , Party System
  • Political Geography: Colombia, South America, Latin America
  • Author: Elizabeth Ann Stein
  • Publication Date: 08-2016
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: This paper proposes that dissident leaders aiming to build mass opposition movements follow the mainstream press to help them gauge government tolerance for anti-government mass actions in repres- sive authoritarian regimes. Under conditions of censorship, media–state interactions serve as a barometer of the government’s disposition toward and capacity to impede public displays of dissent. Observing trends in coverage and the government’s reaction to this coverage helps activist leaders assess when it should be safest to plan anti-government mass actions, such as demonstrations, marches, or strikes. Using original data derived from coding content from the Brazilian newspaper Folha de São Paulo over the period of 1974–1982, I test whether opposition mass actions followed trends in taboo content and government treatment of the press during the period of political liberalization of Brazil’s military regime.
  • Topic: Authoritarianism, The Press, Oppression, Dissent
  • Political Geography: Brazil, South America, Latin America