When observing the democratic consolidation process of Latin America and the Caribbean, legislatures are often understudied and neglected. A vital aspect of the quality of democracy is the increase of the performance of parliamentary institutions, in order to foster social-economic development. Parliaments are the primary institutions where oversight, representation and legislative functions should take place. Latin American legislatures tend to be viewed as ineffective for several reasons: institutional imbalance with the executive branch, high levels of legislative fragmentation, lack of technical and financial resources, and internal organization deficiencies. These aspects hinder legislatures in performing their oversight function, and weaken the overall quality of democratic governance. Ongoing reforms have insufficiently addressed this issue, and the European Union’s (EU) democracy assistance has tended to neglect political institutions to instead focus on civil society building. For this reason, the modernization of parliamentary institutions is key to the region’s social and economic development, and is part of the challenges to improve the quality of democracy in the region. The EU could contribute to democratic development of the region by strengthening the institutional capacity of parliaments, congresses and national assemblies in Latin America and the Caribbean. Latin America could also highly benefit from the development of exchange networks between parliamentarians from Latin American and European countries.
This paper is part of the project “Democracy in Development – global consultations on the EU’s role in democracy building”. The web publication was launched during the annual European Development Days on 23 October.
“Quality of Democracy and Parliamentary Reform in Latin America: How Europe Can Help” – Fernando Carrillo-Flórez & Dennis P. Petri – International IDEA (2009).