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Democracy in the South

Participation, the State and the People

image of Democracy in the South

Traditionally, studies on democracy have focused on the orthodox so-called Northern models of democratic governance, and within this framework, the extent to which Southern models are considered democratic. Democracy in the South is the first truly international collaboration that draws attention to the complex problems of democratic consolidation across the majority world. Nine case studies, three each from Africa, Latin America and Asia, shed light on the contemporary challenges faced by democratizing countries, mostly from the perspective of emerging theorists working in their home countries.

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Venezuela: Democratic possibilities

In December 2006 President Hugo Chávez secured his second six-year term in office, winning 60 per cent of the popular vote. His electoral success has often been dismissed as the product of mere charisma and rhetoric. Chávez, after all, fulfils the requirements of a recurring character in Latin American politics – the populist leader. In spite of his submission to periodic elections, a number of outside observers view him as a despot capitalizing on social divisions for personal gain. Yet to write off Chávez as nothing more than a “ranting populist”, a “ruinous demagogue” or a “mercurial left-leaning leader” trivializes the complexities of Venezuela’s political realities. This chapter aims to rise above these convenient labels and contribute to a more nuanced understanding of populism and democracy using Ernesto Laclau’s framework.

English

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