Transitions to Good Governance
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Transitions to Good Governance

Creating Virtuous Circles of Anti-corruption

Edited by Alina Mungiu-Pippidi and Michael Johnston

Why have so few countries managed to leave systematic corruption behind, while in many others modernization is still a mere façade? How do we escape the trap of corruption, to reach a governance system based on ethical universalism? In this unique book, Alina Mungiu-Pippidi and Michael Johnston lead a team of eminent researchers on an illuminating path towards deconstructing the few virtuous circles in contemporary governance. The book combines a solid theoretical framework with quantitative evidence and case studies from around the world. While extracting lessons to be learned from the success cases covered, Transitions to Good Governance avoids being prescriptive and successfully contributes to the understanding of virtuous circles in contemporary good governance.
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Chapter 3: The Uruguayan path from particularism to universalism

Daniel Buquet Corleto and Rafael Piñeiro


This chapter describes and analyzes the transformation of Uruguayan governance institutions with particular regard to corruption and particularism. Uruguay has substantively improved its levels of universalism since 2000. This improvement is due to a prolonged process of transformation in its politics from competitive particularism to an open-access regime. We claim that the change in the way that parties have competed for votes—from a clientelistic to a programmatic strategy—since 1985 is the cause of this transformation. An economic and fiscal crisis during the 1960s weakened the clientelistic strategy of the traditional parties and enabled the entrance of a new party that built its electoral support on programmatic claims instead of the distribution of clientelism. In that context clientelism became neither fiscally sustainable nor electorally effective. The traditional parties, after an authoritarian period, had to adapt to programmatic competition and leave aside clientelism. Institutional transformations regarding corruption are in this context the effects rather than the causes of universalism. Nevertheless, these new institutions are not irrelevant because they are functional to and help maintain the new political equilibrium. This study uses data from a variety of sources—ranging from official figures to public opinion and elite surveys or media reports—to provide descriptive evidence of the main features of this governance regime transformation, and proposes an analytic framework to explain it.

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