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Perfiles latinoamericanos

versión impresa ISSN 0188-7653


ALTMAN, David. Plebiscits, Referendums and Popular Initiatives in Latin America: Mechanisms of Political Control or Politically Controlled Exercises. Perf. latinoam. [online]. 2010, vol.18, n.35, pp.9-34. ISSN 0188-7653.

This study examines the different ways in which citizens decide directly at the polls on topics of their concern. The direct appeal to the citizenry seems to be increasingly popular in the region and many authors do not see in it more than the use of institutional resources by the authorities to advance a particular political agenda. However, direct democracy is a much more heterogeneous phenomenon than these authors usually grant. In fact, the results of popular votes are generally much tighter than one might assume. Surprisingly, the evidence shows that when used by government agents in Latin America, the rate acceptance does not exceed 55%, even lower than the rate of approval when they are initiated by citizens (56%). This does not mean that, on occasions, authorities use them as exercises of popular mobilization or as tools seeking popular legitimization of the desires of political elites.

Palabras clave : plebiscites; referendums; popular initiatives; democracy; accountability.

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