The State of Democracy in Latin America


Tuesday, September 21, 2021, 12:00pm to 1:20pm

For a recording of this event, click here.

Latin America has been buffeted by economic crisis, soaring crime rates, major corruption scandals, and a devastating pandemic. These crises have threatened democracies across much of the region. DRCLAS has assembled four prominent scholars of Latin American politics to evaluate the state of democracy in the region. How serious are contemporary threats to Latin American democracies? What are the prospects for their survival?

Speakers: Maria Victoria Murillo, Director of ILAS, Columbia University; Scott Mainwaring, Professor of Political Science, University of Notre Dame; Fernando Limongi, Professor of Political Science, University of Sao Paulo; Beatriz Magaloni, Professor of Political Science, Stanford University 
Moderated by: Steven Levitsky, Director, David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies; Professor of Government, Harvard University

Maria Victoria Murillo (PhD, Harvard, 1997) holds a joint appointment with the Department of Political Science and the School of International and Public Affairs and is currently the Director of the Institute for Latin American Studies (ILAS). Murillo is the author of Labor Unions, Partisan Coalitions, and Market Reforms in Latin America, which was translated as Sindicatos, Coaliciones Partidarias y Reformas de Mercado en América Latina by Siglo XXI Editores and Political Competition, Partisanship, and Policymaking in the Reform of Latin American Public Utilities. She is also the co-author of Non-Policy Politics: Richer Voters, Poorer Voters, and the Diversification of Electoral Strategies with Ernesto Calvo (Cambridge University Press 2019) and Understanding Institutional Weakness: Power and Design in Latin American Institutions (Cambridge University Press, Element in Latin American Politics and Society Series, 2019) with Daniel Brinks and Steven Levitsky. She is also the co-editor of Understanding Weak Institutions: Lessons from Latin America ( Cambridge University Press, forthcoming 2020), Argentine Democracy: The Politics of Institutional Weakness (Penn State University Press 2005), Carreras Magisteriales, Desempeño Educativo y Sindicatos de Maestros en América Latina (Flacso, 2003), and Discutir Alfonsín (Siglo XXI, 2010). Her work has also appeared in International Organization, World Politics, American Journal of Political Science, Comparative Politics, Comparative Political Studies, World Development, the Annual Review of Political Science, and many Latin American academic journals. Murillo's research on distributive politics in Latin America has covered labor politics and labor regulations, public utility reform, education reform, agricultural policies, and economic policy more generally. Her more recent work focuses on electoral behavior, contentious dynamics, and the analysis of institutional weakness. Her empirical work is based on a variety of methods ranging from quantitative analysis of datasets built for all Latin American countries to qualitative field work in Argentina, Chile, Mexico, and Venezuela and survey and experiments in Argentina and Chile.

Scott Mainwaring is the Eugene and Helen Conley Professor of Political Science at the University of Notre Dame. His research and teaching focus on democratization and authoritarianism, political parties and party systems, and Latin American politics. His work with Aníbal Pérez-Liñán, Democracies and Dictatorships in Latin America: Emergence, Survival, and Fall (Cambridge University Press, 2013) won the best book prizes of the Comparative Politics section of the American Political Science Association and of the Political Institutions section of the Latin American Studies Association. Mainwaring was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2010. In April 2019, PS: Political Science and Politics listed him as one of the 50 most cited political scientists in the world. He served as the Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor for Brazil Studies and as faculty co-chair of the Brazil Studies program at Harvard University from 2016 to 2019.

Fernando de Magalhães Papaterra Limongi is a Brazilian political scientist who was a member of the Department of Political Science in the Faculty of Philosophy, Literature and Social Sciences at the University of São Paulo (USP) from 1986 until 2018, and is now a professor in the São Paulo School of Economics at the Fundação Getúlio Vargas. He earned his PhD in political science at the University of Chicago in 1993, where he worked with various political scientists like Adam Przeworski with whom he published several works. Returning to Brazil and to USP in 1992, he took on many responsibilities in the Brazilian Center of Analysis and Planning, and became one of the members of the Chamber of Researchers at the center.

Beatriz Magaloni is Professor in the Department of Political Science and a Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI) at Stanford University. She is also director of the Poverty, Violence and Governance Lab. Most of her current work focuses on state repression, police, human rights, and violence. In 2010 she founded the Poverty, Violence and Governance Lab (POVGOV) within FSI's Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law. Her first book, Voting for Autocracy: Hegemonic Party Survival and its Demise in Mexico (Cambridge University Press, 2006), won the Best Book Award from the Comparative Democratization Section of the American Political Science Association and the 2007 Leon Epstein Award for the Best Book published in the previous two years in the area of political parties and organizations. Her second book, The Political Logic of PovertyRelief (co-authored with Alberto Diaz Cayeros and Federico Estévez), also published by Cambridge University Press, studies the politics of poverty relief. Why clientelism is such a prevalent form of electoral exchange, how it distorts policies aimed at aiding the poor, and when it can be superseded by more democratic and accountable forms of electoral exchange are some of the central questions that the book addresses. Her work has appeared in the American Political Science Review, American Journal of Political Science, World Development, Comparative Political Studies, Annual Review of Political Science, Latin American Research Review, Journal of Theoretical Politics and other journals.

Steven Levitsky is the Director of the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies at Harvard University. As the David Rockefeller Professor of Latin American Studies and Professor of Government, his research focuses on democratization, authoritarianism, political parties, and weak and informal institutions. He is author (with Daniel Ziblatt) of How Democracies Die (Crown, 2018), a New York Times Best-Seller that has been published in 25 languages, Competitive Authoritarianism: Hybrid Regimes after the Cold War (with Lucan Way) (Cambridge, 2010), and Transforming Labor-Based Parties in Latin America: Argentine Peronism in Comparative Perspective (Cambridge, 2003), and co-editor of Informal Institutions and Democracy in Latin America (with Gretchen Helmke) and The Resurgence of the Latin American Left (with Kenneth Roberts). He has written frequently for the New York Times, Foreign Affairs, Vox, The New Republic, The Monkey Cage, La República (Peru) and Folha de São Paulo (Brazil). He is currently writing a book (with Lucan Way) on the durability of revolutionary regimes. Levitsky received his PhD from the University of California, Berkeley.

Presented in collaboration with Weatherhead Center for International Affairs and Institute of Latin American Studies, Columbia University