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14 - Strong Citizens, Strong Presidents

The Constitutional Architecture of the Inclusionary Turn in Latin America

from Part IV - Inclusion, Populism, and Democracy

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  12 January 2021

Diana Kapiszewski
Georgetown University, Washington DC
Steven Levitsky
Harvard University, Massachusetts
Deborah J. Yashar
Princeton University, New Jersey
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Astute observers of Latin American politics note a widespread shift towards social inclusion at the turn towards the twenty-first century. Is such a shift evident in written constitutions, and if so, how? We leverage historical data on the content of constitutions to explore this question. A preliminary test is whether the Bolivarian republics of Venezuela, Ecuador, and Bolivia – the militant edge of the “inclusionary turn” – represent a shift from their constitutional trajectory. The evidence suggests that in both style and content, the Bolivarian constitutions are novel by historical standards. A second part of the chapter explores, broadly, the patterns of inclusion across the dimensions of recognition, access, and resource distribution. There is, in fact, a strong trend towards the constitutionalization of inclusion within each of these dimensions. We observe the strongest evidence of such in channels of political access, in the form of participation and accountabililty. Finally, we document a counterintuitive element of the inclusionary turn – the persistence of, and even increase in, strong presidential power with respect to lawmaking authority. We advance the possibility that presidential power, for all of its other implications, may be conducive to inclusion. Broadly, processes of political inclusion are well represented in written constitutions.

Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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