In This Review

Fault Lines of Democracy in Post-Transition Latin America
Fault Lines of Democracy in Post-Transition Latin America
Edited by Felipe Aguero and Jeffrey Stark
North-South Center Press, 1998, 360 pp

In this comprehensive and insightful volume, leading scholars examine the problem of democratic governance in what they call "post-transition" Latin America. Seeking to break out of the extremes of blind optimism and deep pessimism, this book looks beyond the formal institutions to delineate the "fault lines" that weaken Latin American democracy: the lack of depth of electoral politics, weak political parties, declining support for political institutions, the uncertain consequences of television on politics, the violence and insecurity of everyday life, the absence of legal guarantees for many citizens, and the failure to fully subject the military to civilian authority. With some exceptions -- notably Venezuela, Peru, and Paraguay -- the authors do not expect these fault lines to produce a "big and final tremor that will take us back to the blatant authoritarianism of the miltary regimes of the past." But they do warn that much of the recent literature on democratic consolidation in Latin America has been naive at best and superficial at worst, ignoring the "depth, quality, and consistency" of Latin American democracy. A major contribution to the field.