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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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Conclusion: The two faces of innovation

Promises and Limits of Democratic Participation in Latin America

Leonardo Avritzer

Extract

In the conclusion, the author systematizes the 11 cases on political innovation approached in the book. He has attempted to answer both sets of questions in the book through the analysis of empirical cases. He analysed six cases of participatory budgeting; three cases of accountability and two cases of judicial innovation. These cases showed a large variation in results. In some cases participatory innovation has been successfully expanded both in Brazil and Argentina and in other cases innovation was halted by the new form of relation with the political system. The political system is the main variable in the generation of success or failure in the process of innovation. The author also worked with the cases of innovation in the judicial cases in both Brazil and Colombia. He argued that the Colombian case is the one that could be considered successful precisely because it kept in mind a core of rights and norms that innovation cannot go beyond without endangering the deepening of democracy. The 11 cases of innovation in the book can throw a new light on the desirability of innovation. The distinction the author proposed in the introduction allowed us to establish a bar among the different cases. The book narrowed the concept to the cases of democratic innovation in order to assess innovations according to their role in deepening democracy and rights. This allowed him to differentiate cases of participatory budgeting, cases of participatory accountability and cases of judicial innovation. In the end, he came up with a more cautious view on innovation that does not diminish its importance. On the contrary, the book tried to closely bind innovation, rights and the deepening of democracy. Its main trust is that by being more selective deliberative democrats can better contribute to sponsor experiences of innovation.

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