Monday, November 29, 1999

Political protests can lead to stronger political parties

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Washington, June 18 (ANI): While political protests often result in violence and bloodshed, they can end up in forming stronger political parties and more responsive policies.Moises Arce, associate professor of political science in the MU College of Arts and Science, studied the political activity and parties in 17 Latin American countries since 1978.He found that most protests were fuelled by the creation of economic policies that favoured the business sector."Many of these recent protests in Latin America have led to changes in policies and the direction of the government," said Arce."It appears that in some cases, protests may ultimately be helpful for democracy. Some of the established parties may be taking some things for granted. Political protests become forms of street accountability. The change that we have seen after many of these protests is the creation of new parties that better represent the popular interests of society, and, therefore, serve as more effective communication channels for political discourse," he added.Most recent policies have given Latin America large-scale economic stability but little improvement from the general public's perspective.There is still a high level of unemployment, and the public has become more knowledgeable of political corruption, he said."In some of the major protests, people have died, so it's extremely unfortunate that some positive government reforms happened that way," said Arce."Currently, almost all Latin American countries have left or left-leaning presidents. Left or left-leaning presidents tend to be more responsive to popular demands and will create a new political equilibrium between those popular demands and the business sector," he added.Arce said that although people often argue that protests are disruptive and should be channelled in a different way or that the time for protests has passed, the reality is that these protests are happening and they're not necessarily hurting democratic stability.More people in Latin America have become tolerant of protests and they've started to argue that maybe you need both parties and protests in a democracy, said Arce.The study was published in Party Politics. (ANI)

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