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Civil Society's Role in Democratisation: An Assessment of the Central Bolivian Labour Confederation's Role in the Political Economy of post-Neoliberal Bolivia

By TC Wirt


At the time of writing Bolivia has experienced political democracy for nearly 30 uninterrupted years. During this period candidates have been voted into various levels of government through free, fair and regular elections. With each successful election it would seem that political democracy has become increasingly established in Bolivia. However, unlike in more traditional democracies the establishment of political democracy has not led to comprehensive social rights. One possible reason for the stalled democratisation currently facing Bolivia is the nearly quarter of a century of comprehensive neoliberalism, which began in 1986. During this period policy formation was largely decided by small, organised groups of powerful individuals. Furthermore, institutions such as organised labour movements that have been shown to help make political democracies more dynamic – through giving voice to wider interest groups in decision-making processes – were severely repressed during neoliberalism. \ud \ud Evo Morales’ ascension to the presidency in 2006 seems to have marked the end of the type of stringent neoliberal economic policies and narrow decision-making that defined the previous 20 years in Bolivia. More importantly, Morales’ election has coincided with the reassertion of certain political rights that had been limited during neoliberalism. Thus, the political rights that have been argued to be vital in democratisation processes by authors such as O’Donnell, Lipset, Przeworski, Rueschemeyer, Stephens, Sen and Valenzuela seem more available now than in the previous two decades. Based in the literature we argue that the opportunities provided by political democracy will not lead to more substantial social democracy on their own but rather need to be positively grabbed by capable actors. Thus, in this thesis we seek to understand if and how the Central Bolivian Labour Confederation is able to use political democracy as a springboard for obtaining greater social rights?\u

Publisher: Politics (York)
Year: 2010
OAI identifier: oai:etheses.whiterose.ac.uk:1433

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