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Chilean Specificity in the Context of Breakdowns of Authoritarian Regimes and Transitions to Democracy in Latin America in the Late 20th Century

Student: Viktoriya Shary`gina

Supervisor: Mikhail Mironyuk

Faculty: Faculty of Politics

Educational Programme: Bachelor

Final Grade: 8

Year of Graduation: 2014

This paper is aimed at describing and explaining the specificity of the breakdown of General Pinochet’s authoritarian regime and Chilean transition to democracy in the late 20th century. It provides a general characteristic of Augusto Pinochet’s regime in 1973-1990, followed by analysis of the political dynamics in Chile in 1987-1990. In order to explain the specificity of the Chilean case we undertake a comparative analysis of breakdowns of authoritarian regimes in Uruguay, Brazil, Argentina, and Chile and their transitions to democracy in the late 20th century. The research is based on official documents, speeches, opinion polls, interviews and other sources of primary information. We put forward a set of interconnected research questions: What caused the breakdown of the authoritarian regime in Chile? Why did Pinochet step down peacefully without attempts to return to power?Hypothesis: Restoration of democratic and constitutional order in Chile was a combined result of opposition’s efforts and an international isolation of Pinochet’s regime. The circumstances of democratization in Chile, including the specificity of the preceding authoritarian regime, determined the outcome of Chilean transition to democracy.The primary goal of the research is to analyze the transition of Chile from Pinochet’s authoritarian rule to a stable democratic regime. We need to perform the following tasks in order to accomplish the stated above goal:(a)to characterize Pinochet’s political regime in 1973-1990 and to determine roles of its major components (legal base, army, special services and the controlled media, etc.) in sustaining this regime;(b)to analyze the starting points, circumstances, and trajectories of transitions to democracy in Uruguay, Brazil, Argentina, and Chile.The political life of Latin America in the second half of the 20thcentury was characterized by numerous coups d’état after which military dictatorships were established. These regimes were extremely authoritarian as the military dictators or juntas concentrated all legislative, executive, and judicial powers. New “caudillos” and their henchmen dominated in economic, social, political areas. The causes of military coups and military dictatorships in Chile and other countries of the Southern Cone included political instability, lack of appropriate institutionalization and legitimacy, economic crises, social inequality, etc. Studies of military dictatorships in Chile and other countries of Latin America show that they have some common features. But these regimes are far from completely identical.However, as economic and social discontent grew, the military junta in Chile started to lose its support, both from the elite and the general public. In late 1970s opposition movements began to take shape in Chile and other countries of the continent. This process was accelerated by the infringement of interests of various groups which included the middle class as well as trade-unions, successful businessmen and the clergy.As a result the mass democratic movement matured in mid-eighties, and processes of transition from the military dictatorships to democracy began. Their outcomes are rather mixed, as we see the formation of nondemocratic populist regimes as a result of the so-called left turn in Latin America. In this context Chile seems to be a good example of the democracy’s ability to “settle down” in unfavorable conditions.

Full text (added May 15, 2014) (217.94 Kb)

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