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The literature on political participation has consistently found that protest positively and significantly correlates with voting. However, Chile can be considered a deviant case to this pattern. During the last decade, Chileans who participated in street demonstrations were unlikely to participate in elections. What explains this anomaly? We argue that this rupture between participation in protest and in elections results from an effective distancing between social-movement organisations (SMOs) and institutional politics. However, this distancing of SMOs from party politics has not been homogeneous. To examine this heterogeneity, we conduct a comparative design of two cases: the labour and student movements. Based on a mixed-methods study that combines interviews with movement leaders and surveys of protest participants in marches, we seek to highlight the mediating role of SMOs in the promotion of different forms of political participation.
In contemporary Latin America, deep-seated social discontent with political elites and institutions has been, paradoxically, the counterpart of democratic stability and resilience. This paradox suggests that scholarly assessments of democracy are, at least partially, at odds with citizens’ own views of democracy. This article thus develops a framework to describe citizens’ everyday experience with civil, political, and social entitlements associated with democracy. It introduces the framework by analyzing the structural underpinnings of democratic discontent in Chile and then applying it to the analysis of perceived citizenship entitlements in 18 countries, using the AmericasBarometer data. Significant variance is observed across time and both across and within countries. The descriptive findings also imply that only a (declining) minority of Latin American citizens feel fully entitled to civil, political, and social citizenship rights. We advocate the need to bring the demand side of democracy back to the analysis of democratic shortcomings and crises.
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