Home > Publications > Video > Putney Debates 2023 | Democratic Crisis in South America? Ten Points for Debate

About the lecture

This lecture provides an overview of democratic crisis in South America, focusing on stresses, and examining emerging issues in contemporary context. An empirical mapping of democracy in the ten countries of South America is provided with references to collapse of democracy in Venezuela, partial freedom in Peru, Paraguay, Bolivia, Colombia, and Ecuador, and democratic strengthening in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Uruguay. Case studies include the tale of two presidents in Venezuela, political clashes around impeachments in Peru, Paraguay, and Brazil, and disputes around reelections in Bolivia, Colombia, and Ecuador. Theoretical discussion includes ten points for debate (1) Michael Reid’s provocation that Latin America is a ‘forgotten continent’; (2) Roberto Gargarella’s metaphor of the problem of the ‘engine room of the constitution’ based on a previous insight from Carlos Santiago Nino related to ‘hyper presidentialism’ in South America; (3) Sergio Abranches’ critique of ‘Presidentialism of Coalition’; (4) Concrete risks of presidential impeachment; (5) role of Supreme Court in power dynamics; (6) role of electoral courts; (7) democratic organization of political parties; (8) antagonism related to political polarization; (9) institutional weakness and state building; (10) role and functions of constitutions.

About the speaker

Pedro Rubim Borges Fortes is Professor of Law at UCAM Law School and Public Prosecutor at the Attorney general office of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He holds a DPhil (Oxford), JSM (Stanford), LLM (Harvard), MBE (Coppe-UFRJ), BA in Business (PUC-Rio), and LLB (UFRJ). He previously taught at UFRJ, FGV Law School (Rio), and Bennett. He was Visiting Professor at WB NUJS (Kolkata, India), Visiting Scholar at the University of Frankfurt (Germany), Visiting Researcher at the MPI in Frankfurt (Germany) and Hamburg (Germany), and Tutor at the Stanford House in Oxford (United Kingdom). A former Convener of the Law and Public Affairs Discussion Group (2013-2016) and of the Socio-Legal Studies Discussion Group (2015-2016) at the Faculty of Law of the University of Oxford, he currently convenes the stream Exploring Legal Borderlands at SLSA, CRN Law and Development at LSA, and WG Law and Development at RCSL.
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