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Failed presidencies and social protest in the context of Bolivian politics: Empirical evidence
Unformatted Document Text:  blame ends up with the president, which is usually enough to remove him from office. The second dynamic is related to the first one. If the president is expected by the electorate to solve the problems of the people, Latin American presidents have a deficit in that most of them are weak. Often, even the president’s own party members are either reluctant to support a weak president or are uncomfortable with supporting too strong of a president. They might also have their own interests in mind, with an eye on the next elections and their own political careers. Additionally, it is often difficult for a president to build and maintain the support of a coalition and perhaps that of his own party for the whole presidential term. Social protests/social conflicts The term social protest or direct action is a socially and politically charged concept. Without having to delve into a deep discussion of social movements or collective action, my intention here is to merely define the term for the purposes of this article. Therefore, I define social protest or direct action as the means for a population or a group of people to exert political pressure on the government (Raschke, 1988). In contrast with Carter’s 2 definition, I include civil disobedience, demonstrations, confrontation and violent acts into the definition of social protests (2005). I consider these actions a variation in intensity of protests rather than a variation in the kind of protests. These kinds of actions are generally taken to be in a state of conflict with the government and the usual aim at asserting, or in some situations even gain, political rights. This definition recognizes that within the framework of democracy, many kinds of actions are accepted as forms of protests, and thus, are part of the definition of democracy (if they do not become systemic 3 ), including those involving confrontation and violence. For the purpose of this article I consider three levels of intensity in social protest: High level – middle level – low level. Within the high level of intensity I consider violent confrontations between protesters and security forces with resulting injured or dead people. This form of protest is the extreme case within the realm of protests. The middle level of intensity includes confrontation, but without physical violence nor dead. It also includes road blocks, hunger strikes, occupation of public buildings and general strikes. The low intensity level of protest includes largely symbolic and non-physical protest (Carter, 2005). Among these can be 2 April Carter defines direct action as a means for people to exert pressure on governments and other institutions with power. She denotes essentially nonviolent methods of non cooperation, obstruction or defiance (see Carter, 2005:1-5). 3 By systemic I mean that those actions are more the exception than the rule. 7

Authors: Buitrago, Miguel.
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blame ends up with the president, which is usually enough to remove him from office. The
second dynamic is related to the first one. If the president is expected by the electorate to
solve the problems of the people, Latin American presidents have a deficit in that most of
them are weak. Often, even the president’s own party members are either reluctant to support
a weak president or are uncomfortable with supporting too strong of a president. They might
also have their own interests in mind, with an eye on the next elections and their own political
careers. Additionally, it is often difficult for a president to build and maintain the support of a
coalition and perhaps that of his own party for the whole presidential term.
Social protests/social conflicts
The term social protest or direct action is a socially and politically charged concept. Without
having to delve into a deep discussion of social movements or collective action, my intention
here is to merely define the term for the purposes of this article. Therefore, I define social
protest or direct action as the means for a population or a group of people to exert political
pressure on the government (Raschke, 1988). In contrast with Carter’s
definition, I include
civil disobedience, demonstrations, confrontation and violent acts into the definition of social
protests (2005). I consider these actions a variation in intensity of protests rather than a
variation in the kind of protests. These kinds of actions are generally taken to be in a state of
conflict with the government and the usual aim at asserting, or in some situations even gain,
political rights. This definition recognizes that within the framework of democracy, many
kinds of actions are accepted as forms of protests, and thus, are part of the definition of
democracy (if they do not become systemic
), including those involving confrontation and
violence.
For the purpose of this article I consider three levels of intensity in social protest: High level –
middle level – low level. Within the high level of intensity I consider violent confrontations
between protesters and security forces with resulting injured or dead people. This form of
protest is the extreme case within the realm of protests. The middle level of intensity includes
confrontation, but without physical violence nor dead. It also includes road blocks, hunger
strikes, occupation of public buildings and general strikes. The low intensity level of protest
includes largely symbolic and non-physical protest (Carter, 2005). Among these can be
2
April Carter defines direct action as a means for people to exert pressure on governments and other institutions
with power. She denotes essentially nonviolent methods of non cooperation, obstruction or defiance (see Carter,
2005:1-5).
3
By systemic I mean that those actions are more the exception than the rule.
7


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