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The Persistence of Local Caudillos in Latin American (Hardback)

Informal Political Practices and Democracy in Unitary Countries

Imprint: University of Pittsburgh Press
Series: Pitt Latin American Series
Pages: 344
ISBN: 9780822948124
Published: 10th June 2024
Casemate UK Academic



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Despite democratization at the national level, local political bosses still govern many municipalities in Latin America. Caudillos and clans often use informal political practices—ranging from clientelism and patronage to harassment of political opposition—to control local political dynamics. These arbitrary and, at times, abusive practices pose important challenges to how Latin American democracy works and how power is exercised after the decentralization reforms in the region. These reforms promised to bring the government closer to the people and to promote popular participation. In many cases, these ideals are unmet, and newly empowered local politicians have been able to turn municipalities into personal fiefdoms. This book explores how local caudillos stay in power and why some are more successful than others in retaining office. Tomáš Došek provides an in-depth analysis of six cases from Chile, Paraguay, and Peru to show the strategies that caudillos pursue to secure power and the mistakes they commit that drive them out.

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