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Democracy in Latin America

Third Edition

Peter Smith and Cameron Sells

Publication Date - 18 July 2016

ISBN: 9780190611347

416 pages
6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

In Stock

Provides a widespread view of political transformation throughout the entire region


Democracy in Latin America, Third Edition, examines processes of democratization in Latin America from 1900 to the present. Thoroughly revised and expanded, this new edition provides a widespread view of political transformation throughout the entire region.

Adroitly blending qualitative and quantitative approaches, Democracy in Latin America, Third Edition, offers an innovative view of the "dialectic" of democratic change in Latin America. This interpretation draws upon new material concerning the rise of the "new Left," the relationship between social status and satisfaction with democracy, the effectiveness of antipoverty policies, changing roles of the judiciary, and the impact of the international environment. The text is enhanced by the inclusion of numerous photographic illustrations and brief "boxes" with portraits of personalities, explanations about methodology, and comments on conceptual approaches.

New to this Edition

  • A thorough update of empirical information through 2015
  • New analysis of public opinion on the basis of raw survey data
  • Thoughtful evaluation of widespread claims that the "new Left" is in near-fatal decline
  • An updated display of regime type for all countries


  • Traces the origins and evolution of democracy in Latin America
  • Examines the adoption and reform of electoral institutions
  • Assesses the policy performance of contemporary democracies
  • Explores the political representation of women, workers, and indigenous peoples
  • Evaluates trends in public opinion
  • Reveals the prevalence of "illiberal democracy"

About the Author(s)

Peter H. Smith is Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Political Science and Simón Bolívar Professor of Latin American Studies at the University of California, San Diego.

Cameron J. Sells is a Ph.D. student in Political Science at the University of California, San Diego.

Previous Publication Date(s)

September 2011
February 2005


"I can hardly imagine a better way to combine a grand narrative of political development in the region with empirical evidence supporting each point that the authors make. Democracy in Latin America should be the standard textbook for undergraduates interested in democratization and Latin American politics." --Francisco Cantu, University of Houston

"Democracy in Latin America has more on institutions than any other textbook on Latin American politics I am aware of. Smith and Sells' focus on regime change in this region is unique, providing an effective hook for organizing the book." --Melody Ellis Valdini, Portland State University

"The best book on democracy in Latin America." --Philip Mauceri, State University of New York at New Paltz

Table of Contents

    Tables, Figures, and Maps


    Introduction: Dimensions of Democracy


    Cycles of Electoral Democracy

    Transitions and Continuities

    The Military: Heading for the Exits?

    Global Contexts, International Forces


    Presidents or Parliaments?

    Institutional Designs

    Elections: Voters, Winners, Losers


    State Capacity and Policy Performance

    The Politics of Social Equity

    Illiberal Democracy

    The People's Verdict


    12 The Dialectic of Democracy

    Epilogue: The Future of Democracy

    APPENDIX 1 Classification of Electoral Regimes, 1900-2015

    APPENDIX 2 Military Coups in Latin America, 1900-2015

    Suggested Readings


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