In This Review

Elections And Democracy In Central America
Elections And Democracy In Central America
Edited by John A. Booth and Mitchell A. Seligson
University of North Carolina, 1989, 214 pp

During the Reagan years, Washington officials trumpeted the emergence of democracy in Central America, and contrasted the four supposedly democratic nations (Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras) with what they portrayed as Nicaragua's "totalitarian dungeon." In this edited volume, eight experienced specialists on Central America paint a different and far more complex picture. The elections held under strong U.S. pressure in Central America during the 1980s "cannot by any reasonable standard be called democratic," for unchanged structures of domination persist. Nicaragua, meanwhile, has been conducting a unique effort to carry out revolutionary changes in society while retaining a pluralistic political system, with independently organized political interests and with opposition parties competing in elections and represented in the legislature. A valuable effort to probe beneath rhetoric and polemic to examine the realities of Central American politics.