Research Paper 20 - Between Hope and Resignation: Perceptions and practices of politics and leadership among the poor in southern South America

Support for the emergence of democratic processes has been a key aim of the international community for at least two decades. 

But how do the poor and the marginalized perceive the politics of democratic processes, especially in new or born-again democracies? Does it work for them? And how do they perceive the performance and behaviour of democratically elected leaderships? 

This small study, supported by GIZ (the German agency for International Cooperation) seeks to answer these questions.

Key points:

A sample of urban and rural poor in three Latin American countries were surveyed. The results show that the majority regard democratic politics as distant from their preoccupations. Although they welcome democracy, they are somewhat cynical about their elected leaderships. However, in their daily lives they encounter a variety of community organizations and engage in forms of participation that they do not conceive of as 'politics', or as being 'political'. 

These findings are not dissimilar to findings from other parts of the world. Among the study’s important policy messages is the need to support and strengthen local organizations and facilitate coalitions between them so as to enable the poor to aggregate and articulate their interests more effectively in the processes of democratic politics and governance.

 

Documents

About DLP

The Developmental Leadership Program (DLP) is an international research initiative that explores how leadership, power and political processes drive or block successful development.

DLP focuses on the crucial role of home-grown leaderships and coalitions in forging legitimate political settlements and institutions that promote developmental outcomes, such as sustainable growth, political stability and inclusive social development.

Find out more

News

New article: A typology of interaction between politicians and bureaucrats

Tuesday 14th March 2017

DLP Research Fellow Niheer Dasandi has co-authored a new article on how bureaucrats and politicians interact, and how this affects reform efforts. It appears in 'Public Administration and Development'.

Read more

Power and systems, and their role in developmental change: Guest seminar with Duncan Green

Tuesday 21st February 2017

Seeing power and complex social systems clearly is the first step towards supporting positive developmental change, says Oxfam Strategic Director and DLP research partner Duncan Green. He discussed the themes of his latest book at a recent International Development Department guest seminar at the University of Birmingham.

Read more

Follow: @dlprog