Problems of Redemocratization in the Third World: The Philippines and Latin America

Francisco A. Magno


The failure of corporatist authoritarian regimes in Third World societies like Brazil, Argentina, Peru and the Philippines during the 1980 world economic crisis led to a downgrade of their legitimacy and a call for a return to democracy. In this regard, the nature and process of this transition has become the focus of this study to help conduct a critical assessment of the extent and depth that democratic forms and procedures were instituted.

Three types of non-revolutionary transitions to democracy have transpired: transitions initiated from above, transitions through regime collapse and transitions through regime withdrawal. At the same time, the role and behavior of the military determined the political future of these democratic regimes. Latin American and Philippine political formations were compared with additional insight on the similarly critical role played by the Catholic Church in these two societies.

There arose problems in the redemocratization of Latin America and the Philippines which consist of three levels of analysis: the political, the economic and the social. The basic premise of this study is that the problems of redemocratization in these two societies could be attributed to the change that transpired only in the political regime not in the social structures. Hence, where majority of Third World societies are poor; liberal democracy appears to be possible only in form but never in substance.

Lastly, a limitation of this study is its lack of comparison of democratic transition in the Philippines and its Southeast Asian neighbors for lack of major democratic breakthroughs in the latter in the 1980s except in the former.


authoritarianism; Latin America; Philippines; redemocratization; social structures; democracy

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