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Which Democracy?: A Conceptual View from the Developing Countries Perspectives

Is the western liberal model of democracy adequate to analyze the new political regimes of the Third Wave of Democracy? After reviewing the recent literatures on democratization and economic reform, I refer to their signifying concepts, namely, governability, governance and democracy, as well as to their implicit normative biases. I give especial attention to the concept of democracy as used by those literatures, based on the so-called procedural minimum (Schumpeter/Dahl). Considered too minimum by leading authors, this definition has been expanded to include "precising" attributes. Rather than augmenting even further Dahl’s list, I here propose to include in the regime change investigation the characteristics of the decision-making process, as an analytical tool to characterize the new political systems on their own terms. I claim that this approach better exams the more or less democratic character of the building regimes in the period between elections, bringing to the fore the question of vertical accountability of the bureaucracies, issue unsatisfactorily treated by democracy theorists. The policy process approach allows as well for the identification of different types of democracy which differently combine characteristics of decision-making. Finally, with reference to the Brazilian case, I consider the type of political regime the emerging countries are able or willing to build, offering some working hypotheses to analyze them.

democracy; new democracies; governability; governance; decision-making process


Instituto de Estudos Sociais e Políticos (IESP) da Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro (UERJ) R. da Matriz, 82, Botafogo, 22260-100 Rio de Janeiro RJ Brazil, Tel. (55 21) 2266-8300, Fax: (55 21) 2266-8345 - Rio de Janeiro - RJ - Brazil
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