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The Two Faces of Institutional Innovation

Promises and Limits of Democratic Participation in Latin America

Leonardo Avritzer

This book evaluates democratic innovations to allow a full analysis of the different practices that have emerged recently in Latin America. These innovations, often viewed in a positive light by a large section of democratic theorists, engendered the idea that all innovations are democratic and all democratic innovations are able to foster citizenship – a view challenged by this work. The book also evaluates the expansion of innovation to the field of judicial institutions. It will benefit democratic theorists by presenting a realistic analysis of the positive and negative aspects of democratic innovation.
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Chapter 5: Innovation in the wrong direction: The Brazilian and Colombian constitutional traditions, Ministério Público and the courts

Promises and Limits of Democratic Participation in Latin America

Leonardo Avritzer

Extract

The chapter is built on the difference between judicial innovation and democratic innovation, arguing that very few among these new judicial formats are participatory in nature. In all cases, especially those related to the Supreme Court and Ministério Público, the innovation was dependent upon the initiative of professional or corporate entities. In the end, the dependence of innovation on these entities reveals a risk to the use of innovation: is judicial innovation narrowing democracy or deepening democracy? In the chapter the author explains the role of the Brazilian Supreme Court and the Ministério Público in the process of judicial innovation, in particular those innovations occurring in Brazil during the past decade. He also contrasts judicial innovation in Colombia with that in Brazil, focusing on the political dangers of judicial innovation but not disregarding the merits of successful cases of judicial innovation. He also shows in Chapter 5 that the Colombian case is more successful than the Brazilian and as a consequence does not allow us to rule out judicial innovation altogether.

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