Failed presidencies and social protest in the context of Bolivian politics: Empirical evidence
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in Bolivia), where everyone involved had personal interests and favors to win (I
elaborate on this point in the next paragraph). The second factor was the perceived corruption
of the political elite. The concept of perception is key, because, even though corruption was
especially rampant, it cannot be said that everyone was corrupt. However, in the eyes of the
public, the image of corruption was generalized and associated to all public figures.
A third reason was the system of government denoted democracia pactada or accorded
democracy. It turned out to have advantages and disadvantages. As noted before, with the
accorded democracy model, governability improved significantly. It seemed to lend a certain
political stability and continuity to the Bolivian government by inducing consociational
arrangements (Lijphart, 1994). In fact, the period between 1985 and 2002 was one of the most
stable democratic periods in the country’s troubled history.
Paradoxically however, the democracia pactada seemed to enter a period of inertia when the
arrangements themselves became the focus of criticism. By 2005, as shown below, this model
of governability had lost all its appeal and legitimacy. Instead, it became one more reason
why some presidents did not finish their terms in office. The major reason was that these
coalitions were constituted by political pacts where ideologies, values and programs, played a
small role. For example, in the case of Siles Suazo, the coalition partners were the center-left
MIR, the communist party (PC), the christian democrats (PDC) and several other political
groups with syndicalist ideologies. All of these forces had distinct agendas –some of them
opposite— and therefore they did not manage to articulate a clear set of policies. Also, since
the new government needed 79 votes in order to take office, the opposition showed its ‘good
will’ agreeing to support Hernan Siles Suazo for President. In this manner, the national
populist MNR and the right of center ADN supported Siles’ election but proved to be a real
obstacle by constantly blocking the government’s actions.
Cuoteo means the distribution of government posts among the coalition political parties.