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Unarmed utopia revisited: the resurgence of left-of-centre politics in Latin America

By Francisco Panizza


This paper seeks to examine the extent to which left-wing forces are making a comeback in Latin America and to draw out the political implications of their political ascendancy. It argues that while left-of-centre parties have developed a persuasive critique of the failures of liberal democracy and economic neoliberalism in the region, there is as yet no conceptual clarity or distinct policy initiatives materialising from the left's promises of deepening democracy and implementing an alternative economic model. When in power, left-of-centre parties have followed a strategy of 'bending and moulding' existing political institutions and the free-market economic model rather than attempting radical political and economic reforms. This paper concludes that left-of-centre parties are right in accepting that there is little room in the region for an anti-systemic model and that instead the emphasis should be placed on making states, markets and democracy work better to secure development, address social demands and attack the root causes of discrimination and inequality. But leaving behind old certainties and adapting to the new political and economic environment has come at the cost of a loss of intellectual confidence, ideological clarity and weakened identities

Topics: JA Political science (General)
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd
Year: 2005
DOI identifier: 10.1111/j.1467-9248.2005.00553.x
OAI identifier:
Provided by: LSE Research Online
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