Taking democracy to the streets : contentious politics and the rise of anti-neoliberalism in Bolivia
Giulino, Meghan Elizabeth.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Georgetown University, 2009.; Includes bibliographical references.; Text (Electronic thesis) in PDF format. The Andean country of Bolivia holds a dubious distinction as one of the most politically unstable countries in the world. Throughout its 184-year history, it has had 82 different rulers or ruling coalitions, and heads of state have routinely arrived at the highest office in the land via coups, counter-coups, revolts, and popular protests. From 1985 until 2003 Bolivia appeared to buck this trend with five consecutive free and openly contested elections. However, in the year 2000, symptoms of its chronic instability once again resurfaced as citizens took to the streets to protest the neoliberal economic policies put in place over the previous decade and a half. A five-year period of sustained defiance culminated with landslide victories for anti-neoliberal political parties, and most notably the election of President Evo Morales and his political party MAS. This dissertation asks: What is the relation between acts of contentious politics and electoral outcomes? Using quantitative and qualitative analysis, I argue that expressions of contentious politics have a strong and statistically significant effect on the election of anti-neoliberal politicians and parties. I argue that these informal expressions of defiance both provide movement leaders with practical lessons for their candidacies and transform the ways in which voters conceptualize elections and their role in them.
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