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Sociologia, Problemas e Práticas

versão impressa ISSN 0873-6529

Sociologia, Problemas e Práticas  n.42 Oeiras maio 2003

 

PROSPECTS FOR THE CONSOLIDATION OF LATIN AMERICAN DEMOCRACIES

Rethinking the role of corruption and institutional trust

Carsten Q. Schneider*

 

Abstract This article analyses the role of corruption and institutional trust in the process of the consolidation of Latin American democracies. Corruption not only violates the basic democratic principles of equality, transparency, and fairness, but it is also believed to foster the likelihood of a democratic breakdown by undermining the legitimacy of the democratic system in general, and the trust in its core institutions in particular. When compared with consolidated democracies, both level of corruption and institutional distrust are significantly higher in almost all Latin American countries. However, there is no evidence that the Latin American citizens’ trust in the policy-implementing institutions (police, judiciary, public administration) is more negatively influenced by corruption than it is the case for citizens in consolidated democracies. These findings cast some doubts on the assumption that attitudes should form part of the concept of CoD. Instead, they might better be conceptualized as independent phenomena potentially influencing the persistence of democracy.

Keywords Consolidation of democracy, institutional trust, corruption, Latin America.

 

Resumo Com este artigo pretende-se analisar o papel da corrupção e da confiança institucional no processo de consolidação das democracias latino-americanas. O fenómeno da corrupção não representa apenas uma violação dos princípios fundamentais de igualdade, transparência e justiça sobre os quais se edifica a democracia, é também visto como um dos principais factores de ruptura de um regime democrático, minando a sua legitimidade em geral e a confiança dos cidadãos nas suas principais instituições. Em quase todas as democracias latino-americanas, os níveis de corrupção e de desconfiança institucional mostram-se significativamente superiores aos registados nas democracias tidas como consolidadas. Contudo, não existe qualquer prova empírica que permita sustentar a tese de que a confiança dos cidadãos nas principais instituições do estado, encarregues da implementação de políticas públicas (policy-implementing institutions) - polícia, aparelho judicial e administração pública - é mais negativamente afectada pela corrupção nas democracias latino-americanas do que nas consolidadas. Os resultados obtidos neste estudo levantam algumas reticências à hipótese de que as atitudes dos cidadãos fariam parte integrante do conceito de consolidação da democracia (CoD). Em alternativa, as atitudes dos cidadãos são aqui interpretadas como um fenómeno independente que poderá vir a influenciar a persistência da democracia.

Palavras-chave Consolidação da democracia, confiança institucional, corrupção, América Latina.

 

Résumé Cet article analyse le rôle de la corruption et de la confiance institutionnelle dans le processus de consolidation des démocraties d’Amérique Latine. Le phénomène de la corruption ne représente pas seulement une violation des principes fondamentaux d’égalité, de transparence et de justice qui constituent les fondements de la démocratie; il est aussi perçu comme l’un des principaux facteurs conduisant à la rupture du régime démocratique, en minant sa légitimité en général et la confiance des citoyens dans ses principales institutions. Dans presque toutes les démocraties latino-américaines, les niveaux de corruption et de méfiance institutionnelle sont nettement supérieurs à ceux observés dans les démocraties dites consolidées. Toutefois, il n’existe aucune preuve empirique permettant d’affirmer que la confiance des citoyens dans les principales institutions de l’État, chargées de mettre en œuvre les politiques publiques (policy-implementing institutions) - police, appareil judiciaire et administration publique - est plus entamée par la corruption dans les démocraties latino-américaines que dans les démocraties consolidées. Les résultats obtenus dans cette étude remettent en cause l’hypothèse selon laquelle les attitudes des citoyens feraient partie intégrante du concept de consolidation de la démocratie (CoD). En alternative, les attitudes des citoyens sont interprétées en tant que phénomène indépendant, qui pourrait influencer la persistance de la démocratie.

Mots-clés Consolidation de la démocratie, confiance institutionnelle, corruption, Amérique Latine.

 

Resúmene Con este artículo se pretende analizar el papel de la corrupción y de la confianza en las instituciones en el proceso de consolidación de las democracias latino-americanas. El fenómeno de la corrupción no representa solo una violación de los principios fundamentales de igualdad, transparencia y justicia, sobre los que asienta la democracia, sino que es visto también como uno de los principales factores de ruptura de un régimen democrático, minando su legitimidad en general y la confianza de los ciudadanos en sus principales instituciones. En casi todas las democracias latino-americanas, los niveles de corrupción y de desconfianza institucional se muestran significativamente superiores a los registrados en las democracias ya consolidadas. Además, no existe cualquier prueba empírica que permita sustentar la tesis de que la confianza de los ciudadanos en las principales instituciones del Estado, encargadas de implantar políticas públicas (policy-implementing institutions) — policía, aparato judicial y administración pública — es más afectada negativamente por la corrupción en las democracias latino-americanas que en las ya consolidadas. Los resultados obtenidos en este estudio levantan algunas reticencias a la hipótesis de que las actitudes de los ciudadanos formarían parte integrante del concepto de consolidación de la democracia (CoD). Como alternativa, las actitudes de los ciudadanos se interpretan aquí como un fenómeno independiente que podrá influenciar la persistencia de la democracia.

Palabras-clave Consolidación de la democracia, confianza institucional, corrupción, América Latina.

 

Texto completo disponível apenas em PDF.

Full text only available in PDF format.

 

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*Carsten Q. Schneider. European University Institute (EUI). Department of Political and Social Sciences. Via dei Roccettini 9/San Domenico di Fiesole, Florence, (Italy). E-mail: carsten.schneider@iue.it. Homepage: http://www.iue.it/Personal/Researchers/Carsten.Schneider/

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