Democracy and Inequality in the Philippines and Latin America: Historical Patterns and Political Values

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 5:30 PM
Room: 315
Oral Presentation
Mario Luis GRANGEIA , Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Matias LOPEZ , Interdisciplinary Network for the Study of Social Inequality (NIED), Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
This paper explores the case of the Philippines in light of the Latin American democratization experience. Being a catholic country, with Spanish heritage and a recent authoritarian past, the Philippines may provide a ‘hoop test’ (i.e. a test of necessary conditions) for theories on Latin American politics. Latin America’s fragile combination of extreme inequality and democracy is often explained through the reminiscences of an Iberian political culture and through the effects of a statist ideology among elites. These theorized causes are present in the Filipino case as well. Located in Southeast Asia, the Philippines share several cultural and political features with many Latin American countries, such as social and political inequality, patronage and state inefficiency. Despite such problems, the Philippines and most Latin American countries have managed to sustain a democratic routine since the mid-80s. The Philippines and Latin America also face similar challenges, for instance popular dissatisfaction with political elites, high levels of urban violence and also circumscribed political violence. In order to sustain our argument of case similarity, first we compare historical patterns of development in the Philippines and Latin America. Then we compare available survey data on Latin America and the Philippines in order to test whether political values are in fact compatible among them. Our main goal is to evaluate if theories on Latin American politics effectively apply to an external case. If the similarity remains tout court, we may say that the Philippines in fact provides a ‘hoop test’ for Latin America. If not, the challenge becomes to incorporate findings in our understanding of Latin America and the Philippines.