chapter  31
16 Pages

Public Bureaucracies in the Transition from Authoritarian to Democratic Regimes: Lessons from the Latin American Experience

WithI. Tapia-Videla Jorge

This chapter examines some of the pressing problems confronted by those attempting to build a democratic administrative state under conditions of rapid change and uncertainty. It focuses on the need for either improving or developing new institutional and social mechanisms for expanding the levels of democratic accountability and responsiveness of public bureaucracies as a necessary condition for strengthening democratic legitimacy. The idea of “administrative state” recognizes that to an extent, all modern polities are “administrative states” since a number of important decisions—economic and social—are in the hands of administrators and of technicians. The chapter examines extensively on Latin American sources and research conducted over the last five years. It suggests that the model illuminates some of the ideological and organizational elements that were to be present in many countries of the region—including those still adhering to some form of formal democracy. Legislatures in Latin America are comparatively weak in their formal powers to influence or control public bureaucracies.