Latinno Abschlussbericht

3744 Democratic Innovations

For five years, the LATINNO project at WZB was dedicated to building the first comprehensive and systematic data collection on new institutions of citizen participation that developed in Latin America from 1990 to 2020. LATINNO collected data sets on these democratic innovations and made them available for research. Now, the final report by coordinator Thamy Pogrebinschi, research fellow in the Democracy and Democratization Department, has been published.

The project recorded 3744 democratic innovations that developed in 18 Latin American countries. In addition to quantitative data, qualitative information on each case was collected and analyzed. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, two additional datasets were also created. The first compiles democratic innovations that relied on collective intelligence to solve social, economic, political, and health problems created by the COVID-19 pandemic. The second covers all the different types of civil society responses to the pandemic in the 18 countries studied. The content has been published in 29 publications to date, including scientific articles, book chapters, and and opinion pieces.

In the final report, "Thirty Years of Democratic Innovations in Latin America," LATINNO coordinator Thamy Pogrebinschi draws on the project's datasets to present 11 findings, four main trends, and six policy recommendations regarding democratic innovations in Latin America. Among the findings, it shows that deliberation, for example in the form of citizens* assemblies or participatory planning processes, has been the main means of citizen participation in Latin America since the 1990s, which declined after 2015. At the same time digital participation rises quickly and digital democratic innovations comprise altogether about a quater of the cases of the dataset. Thamy Pogrebinschi predicts that this trend will be reinforced by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Another key finding is that civil society has expanded its role in creating democratic innovations, while the supporting role of governments has increasingly diminished since 2016. Building on this, she recommends, among other things, that as democracy is increasingly challenged by the election of authoritarian governments and the advance of conservative forces across Latin America, it is critical to institutionalize democratic innovations in law and ensure that their decisions are binding. She adds that this process of institutionalization should include rules that prevent democratic innovations from being co-opted by governments and misappropriated by political parties.

July 5, 2021


Team picture with members of the LATINNO project

Pogrebinschi, Thamy (2021) "Thirty Years of Democratic Innovations in Latin America". WZB Berlin.