17,663 research outputs found

    Institutional Change and Political Conflict: Evaluating Alternative Explanations of Electoral Reform in Costa Rica.

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    This article seeks to identify the conditions that prompt executives and legislators to reform electoral laws, especially those with far-ranging and redistributive consequences. It pursues this objective by evaluating the ability of alternative models of political behaviour and institutional reform to account for the promulgation of the 1946 Electoral Code in Costa Rica, one of the oldest and most stable democracies in Latin America and in the world, more generally. The 1946 Electoral Code, among other reasons, merits study because its enactment threatened to loosen the governing party's grip on the presidency in the 1948 elections and promised to eradicate — if not reduce — its majority in Congress in the 1946 midterm as well as 1948 elections. A central conclusion of this article is that, contrary to some recent critiques of strategic models of institutional change, the inability of legislative seat maximization or career protection models to explain the promulgation of the 1946 Electoral Code does not mean that rational choice theories cannot account for the reform of electoral laws. By developing a third model that focuses upon the interest incumbents have in promoting political stability, this article shows that the creation of institutions that promise to punish key sectors of the ruling bloc is prompted, in part, by the threat of a civil war that at least some incumbents fear losing' The establishment of institutions with such redistributive repercussions also stems from the willingness of some within the ruling bloc to fashion a new alliance with those in the opposition who also share an interest in political stability

    Explaining Voter Turnout Rates in New Democracies: Guatemala.

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    This paper uses several ols models to evaluate the impact of sociological, institutional, and spatial approaches to turnout across the 330 municipalities of Guatemala. It shows that economic development and geographic location (urban vs. rural) have little discernible impact on turnout. Turnout, however, varies positively with the share of registered voters who are female, even if fewer women are registered to vote and, as a result, actually cast ballots. As turnout has fallen through time, the share of registered voters who are literate and the share of the population that is indigenous have become negatively associated with turnout. Larger number of citizens turn out to vote as municipal size decreases and as the ratio of registered voters to voting stations falls. That these factors are significant suggests that, even in a research design that privileges socioeconomic variation, spatial–institutional differences help explain voter turnout rates

    How work enfaiths : catechizing in the religious poetry of Denise Levertov ; and, "Writing under observation" : applying a cognitive theory of unreliability to Nabokov's Lolita

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    "Although the experience of reading Denise Levertov's mid-period protest poetry has received attention from critics, the experience of her religious poetry has been ignored. To begin discussion on this important aspect of her work, I look to criticism of George Herbert's poetry, drawing from the process of "catechizing," as described by Stanley Fish. In, "How Work Enfaiths," I build on similarities between Levertov and Herbert, and apply Fish's theory to articulate the experience of reading Levertov's work. In "Writing Under Observation," I address the unreliability of Humbert, the narrator in Nabokov's Lolita. In particular, I deal with the question of recognizing Humbert's unreliability, which is difficult to do with the text-based theories employed by most critics. To resolve this problem, I apply Ansgar Nunning's cognitive theory of unreliability to Lolita, and demonstrate the process of identifying Humbert's unreliability by offering a case study of two readers interacting with the text."--Abstract from author supplied metadata

    The Institutional Foundations of Democratic Cooperation in Costa Rica

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    Abstract. Costa Rica's long-term standing as one of the few countries in Latin America with a stable democracy has prompted many to view its polity as an inevitable outcome of a racially homogeneous and relatively egalitarian society. Without ignoring the importance of sociological factors, this article contends that institutional arrangements played an equally important — if not more central — role in the development of a stable democratic regime in this country. The structure of Costa Rican presidentialism encouraged incumbents to maintain control of the state while it, as a consequence, incited the opposition to rebel against central state authorities. Political competition became more peaceful as parties that failed to hold or to capture the presidency were nevertheless compensated by being allowed to occupy legislative seats

    Structural Reform, Democratic Governance, and Institutional Design in Latin America

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    The radical shift in development strategy in Latin America to market-based reforms was a product of the 1982 debt crisis. In its aftermath Latin American economies stopped growing for most of the 1980s. Persistent balance of payments deficits, aggravated by fixed exchange rates, were the proximate causes of ten years of economic stagnation. Protection for domestic manufacturers was a structural factor that prevented countries from developing export industries able to finance growing volumes of imports. Unaccountable governments and political instability in many countries also were underlying structural weaknesses that contributed to the debt debacle. Because governments found it easier to contract debts from international banks (who were more than willing to recycle petrol dollars) than to build a political consensus in favor of raising chronically low tax rates, most countries of the region piled up public debts in foreign currencies (at unfixed interest rates). These debts became unsustainable by the 1980s.1 Kurt Weyland's The Politics of Market Reform in Fragile Democracies analyzes why Latin American presidents succeeded or failed to enact first generation structural reforms, policies aimed at restoring macroeconomic health in the 1980s. In general, first generation reforms focused on reducing inflation and reigniting economic growth. Weyland not only offers an explanation for why radical neoliberal experiments took hold or did not take hold in Argentina, Brazil, Peru, and Venezuela, but also challenges the use of rational choice to make sense of Latin American politics. Jorge Dominguez and Michael Shifter's collection of essays, Constructing Democratic Governance, examines the political impact of market-based reforms in the region. Thematic and country-specific chapters analyze how well (or badly) political systems are building the political consensus to promote democratic consolidation

    Costa Rica: Paradise in Doubt

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    Long counted among Latin America's most stable and vibrant democracies, Costa Rica has now become a place where the once unimaginable happens. In just the past year, two former presidents of this Central American country of 4.3 million have been arrested on corruption charges, while a third has come under investigation. Voter turnout is dropping. Citizens are unhappy with the tone and content of public life. Agencies and boards responsible for policing the state seem to be working poorly. The public debt is growing to an unhealthy size. The party system, the link between citizens and the state, is disintegrating

    Does Tenure Matter to Resource Management? Property Rights and Forest Conditions in Guatemala

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    Objectives. Property rights are central to debates about natural resource policy. Governments traditionally have been seen as the appropriate custodians of natural resources for their citizens. More recently, many argue the privatization of property rights will ensure that users have incentives to manage their resources well. Common property, to the extent it is discussed at all, is seen as leading to the tragedy of the commons. We evaluate these claims by assessing property rights and forest conditions in two private and three communal forests in Guatemala. Methods. Data on biological and social phenomena from five forests (151 plots) and their associated communities were collected using the International Forestry Resources and Institutions Research Program protocols. Ordinary least squares regression was used to analyze four models. We examined t-scores for differences in coefficients for the different models. Results. The models demonstrate that de jure property rights are not a powerful predictor of variations among the sampled forests. Conclusions. We argue that de facto institutions and their enforcement are much more important than de jure property rights to forest management. Communities holding a forest in common can, under certain circumstances, create institutions to manage their resources as successfully as—or more successfully than—private owners

    Dual Credit/Concurrent Enrollment Initiatives: A Study of Influences on Students' Postsecondary Decisions

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    This study focused on three major areas of influence on students' postsecondary decisions as related to the DCCE initiatives: the knowledge-base of the students and their advisors, the college enrollment aspirations for the students, and the students' college planning practices. The research investigated whether these elements are being addressed by the DCCE initiatives and the level of effectiveness of any efforts to address these major areas of influence on students' postsecondary decisions. The study was a three-phase, mixed methods study using participant data from students from nine North Carolina community colleges. The first phase involved a student database search; the second phase involved a combined student interview, which represented the first data collection methodology used in the study, and the third phase was the administration of an individual student questionnaire. The research revealed that there are several major influences on the students' decisions regarding enrolling in DCCE courses. The primary influence was the students' parents. Other helpful and influential sources of information in the students' DCCE enrollment decisions were student advisors such as teachers. Students' decisions regarding DCCE participation also were influenced by knowledge of tuition-waived college credit, transferability of college courses, getting an early start on college courses, and a quicker pathway to career goals. A majority of the respondents felt that their pre-DCCE level of understanding of how they could apply their DCCE experience to achieve their college goals was very high. Only half of the respondents reported knowing where they wanted to go to college or what they wanted to study once they graduated from high school before they started taking DCCE courses, and a majority of the respondents did not start planning for college until their sophomore or junior year of high school. A majority of the respondents were already taking DCCE courses when they developed their college goals. The data suggest that the students' college goals actually evolved throughout their DCCE experience via their participation in the DCCE program

    Political Competition and Electoral Fraud: A Latin American Case Study

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    For an activity that was (or is) so central to the practice of politics in so many countries, electoral fraud remains poorly understood. Why and how politicians and parties violated (or violate) laws to falsify electoral outcomes constitute a set of topics the importance of which few would deny. Understanding how they illegally increased their vote totals or decreased those of their adversaries is not only essential to the history of many democratic systems, but an ongoing activity in many others. The study of electoral fraud is an ideal way to shed light on whether political behavior is shaped more by sociological factors or by institutional arrangements, especially where and when survey data is not available. This study aims to begin filling this void by drawing upon a rich documentary source--the petitions to nullify electoral results (demandas de nulidad)--from Costa Rica, a country noted for its long history of democratic government. The petitions contain a wealth of material about the frequency, nature, and geographical basis of accusations of electoral fraud. They were generally lodged by those with legal training and typically published by the daily government gazette (La Gaceta). They were one of the weapons most frequently used by the opposition to combat the prerogatives largely held by presidents until the mid-twentieth century, namely, the production of the electoral registry, the holding of elections, and the tally of the vote. They are valuable precisely because of their partisan origins: By virtue of what they say and do not say, they trace the frontier delimiting acceptable from unacceptable behavior

    Measuring Political Democracy: Case Expertise, Data Adequacy, and Central America.

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    Recent writings concerning measurement of political democracy offer sophisticated discussions of problems of conceptualization, operationalization, and aggregation. Yet they have less to say about the error that derives from the use of inaccurate, partial, or misleading data sources. Draw-ing on evidence from five Central American countries, the authors show this data-induced mea-surement error compromises the validity of the principal, long-term cross-national scales of democracy. They call for an approach to index construction that relies on case expertise and use of a wide range of data sources, and they employ this approach in developing an index of political democracy for the Central American countries during the 20th century. The authors’ index draws on a comprehensive set of secondary and primary sources as it rigorously pursues standards of conceptualization, operationalization, and aggregation. The index’s value is illustrated by showing how it suggests new lines of research in the field of Central American politics
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