"Democracy in Latin America: Between Hope and Despair"
Book Launch and Discussion
Reception to follow
Rev. Timothy Scully, CSC
Ignacio Walker is both a scholar and practitioner of politics in Latin America. Currently a senator of the Republic of Chile, where he is president of the Christian Democratic Party, he served as Chilean secretary of state from 2004 to 2006.
After graduating from the University of Chile in 1978, Walker became a lawyer for the Vicaría de la Solidaridad, defending people against human rights violations committed by the regime of General Augusto Pinochet. He left in 1982 to study politics, returning to Chile in the late 1980s to do research at CIEPLAN. With brief interruptions, he has served in the Chilean government in various capacities since 1990.
A former Kellogg visiting fellow who also served on the Kellogg Advisory Board, Walker holds a PhD in political science from Princeton University.
Democracy in Latin America: Between Hope and Despair
In 2009, Ignacio Walker—scholar, politician, and one of Latin America's leading public intellectuals—published La Democracia en America Latina. Now available in English, with a new prologue, and significantly revised and updated for an English-speaking audience, Democracy in Latin America: Between Hope and Despair contributes to the necessary and urgent task of exploring both the possibilities and difficulties of establishing a stable democracy in Latin America.
Walker argues that, throughout the past century, Latin American history has been marked by the search for responses or alternatives to the crisis of oligarchic rule and the struggle to replace the oligarchic order with a democratic one. After reviewing some of the principal theories of democracy based on an analysis of the interactions of political, economic, and social factors, Walker maintains that it is primarily the actors, institutions, and public policies—not structural determinants—that create progress or regression in Latin American democracy.
Democracy in Latin America is organized by eight themes: independence and the establishment of democracy; the economic shift from exports to import substitution; democratic breakdowns, transitions, and consolidation; the double transition to democracy and trade liberalization in the 1980s and 1990s; institutions, democratic governability, and neopopulism; presidentialism and parliamentarism; the "new social question"; and the need for democracy of institutions. Walker systematically addresses the abundant literature on democracy in Latin America, combining a scholarly perspective with real world experience that enhances the understanding of political and economic development in the region.