Challenges Of Democratic Governance
In the last few years, democratic recession has been particularly troubling in the Andes as populist parties/leaders have emerged in response to the public’s frustration and discontent with weak democratic institutions and performance and increasing dissatisfaction with corrupt and incompetent government. In Peru, for example, there have been five presidents in the last 3 years with the last six presidents accused of corruption.
Populism became the answer to the failings of the previous democratic governments, as in Bolivia and Venezuela. As with all populist movements and leaders, the rise to power through free and fair elections but once in power politicize and dismantle democratic institutions and process that impeded the populist from consolidating authoritarian rule on behalf “of the will of the people.”
1. What are the particular challenges of democratic governance and how do they open opportunities for populist “political entrepreneurs”?
2. Colombia’s political and economic development is seen to be different than the rest of the Andes – take, for example the long-standing conflict/violence in Colombia. What are the similarities/differences between Colombia and the rest of the Andes?
3. Finally, what explains authoritarian survival in Venezuela?
Laura Gamboa is assistant professor of political science at Utah State University. She is currently working on a book that examines opposition strategies against democratically elected presidents who try to under- mine checks and balances and stay in office, effectively eroding democ- racy. Her work has been published in Political Research Quarterly and Comparative Politics.
As his two terms in the presidency neared their end in 2018, Juan Manuel Santos might have expected that he would be enjoying high standing among his fellow Colombians. Having won the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize for his role as leader of a peace deal with the long-running leftist insurgency known as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Co- lombia (FARC), Santos could fairly claim to be leaving his country of fifty-million people a better democracy than it had been when he first took office in 2010.
The peace agreement is Colombia’s most important achievement in recent decades. Signed in November 2016, the accord ended an armed conflict that had gone on for more than five decades. Thousands of former combatants have demobilized, and Colombia has become a less violent place.
In April 2018, his ap- proval rating was an abysmal 23 percent.1 In the March congressio- nal elections, his Social Party of National Unity had come in fourth in lower-house races and fifth in Senate races. But worse was yet to come. In the June runoff for the presidency, Santos would watch voters give the office to a 42-year-old one-term conservative senator named Iván Duque, the handpicked candidate of Santos�s greatest rival, for- mer president Alvaro Uribe (2002–10).
Duque, whose main campaign promise was a vow to take apart the peace accord, led a seven-candi- date field in the May 27 first round with 39 percent of the vote. Then he defeated Gustavo Petro, the left-wing former mayor of Bogotá, in
Journal of Democracy Volume 29, Number 4 October 2018 © 2018 National Endowment for Democracy and Johns Hopkins University Press
Latin America’s Shifting Politics