Between Democratic Protection and Self-Defense: The Case of Unasur and Venezuela
19 Pages Posted: 5 Dec 2015
Date Written: December 1, 2015
Contrary to the assumption that the adoption and formalization of democratic protection mechanisms by regional organizations contribute per se to democratic consolidation, this article argues that the performance of those mechanism is tied to the interests of governments that are both their rule makers and their enforcers in concrete political crises. Governments design democratic protection mechanisms minimizing the probabilities that they could escape their discretionary control contributing to the paradoxical result that the provisions end up enforcing regime stability rather than democracy. We illustrate this claim with the intervention of the Union of South American Nations (Unasur) in the post-Chávez Venezuela paying specific attention to two mechanisms: the democratic protocol and the electoral council. The structural bias in favor of the incumbent governments is not an exclusive tension of Unasur, and it should be systematically analyzed in the comparative studies and assessments of the link between regional organizations and democracy.
Keywords: Regional organizations; democratic clauses; democratic protection; Venezuela; Unasur
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