Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Mandates and Democracy

According to O'Donnell (1994), representative democracy requires from elected politicians to hold to the voters' mandate. That is, what they promised, it should be fulfill. And if they don't succeed in doing so, they should be fired in the next elections.

Stokes (2001) sings a different song. Her vision of representative democracy accepts that politicians change their mind after being elected if they think there are better roads to wellbeing. So, in the concept of mandate, there is a distinction between preferred goals and preferred ways to achieve them. Politicians should attend to the first element in any case, in order to be accountable; but they can switch their mind about the best means to get those goals without being attempting against democracy.

In the case of Latin American states, there is a curious correlation between the strenght of political parties (age, cohesion, militants, etc) and doing policy switches. Switches to neoliberalism occured in a set of nations (including Argentina, Peru or Venezuela), but turned to be massively supported after they took place. Corruption and stagnation would defeat those presidents two or more terms after the policy switches, but the initial support grew to astronomic levels in all those countries.


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