Democracy amidst Uncertainty: Representative Claims and Democratic Contestation in Mexico
RC48 Social Movements, Collective Actions and Social Change
Deficient democracies are regimes where democratic practices and meanings are contested amidst institutional uncertainty. Different agents promote different conceptions of political inclusion and responsiveness, and are accountable to different interests. In many cases, some agents demand broadening the scope of democracy and deepening its reach. They might demand competitive elections, programmatic parties, forums for public deliberation, or participative innovations. However, in many other cases, social and political agents defend rules and policies that protect vested interests, without being fully accountable to the public or the rule of law. They deploy both legitimate and illegitimate resources to entrench their power and influence. They may recur as well to the arbitrary use of state or to social violence, paying lip service to formal institutions and endorsing the democratic discourse.
Mexico constitutes a relevant case of a deficient democracy where formal rules are weakly enforced and strategically manipulated. It is also a case where different social and political agents demand strengthening democratic institutions and practices, claiming to represent the public while contesting rules and policies. This session proposes discussing specific episodes or cases in Mexico where different agents claim to promote or protect democracy in contexts of institutional uncertainty. The main goal is analyzing how agents in asymmetric positions claim to represent public interests, demanding inclusion, responsiveness, accountability, or other democratic ideals. Each case study should help to assess how processes develop, how representative claims emerge, how conflict is overcome, and how the prevailing status quo is challenged or reinforced.
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