Latin American Governments & Politics

Course Code






Course Objectives

This course is an introduction to Latin American politics combining both historical and contemporary perspectives through the approach of comparison. Students are expected to have basic knowledge about comparative politics. By the end of this semester, you will be able to:

  1. Identify and describe important facts about domestic politics in Latin American countries.
  2. Apply analytical frameworks, use political science concepts, and collect data sources to describe, compare, and analyze the political dynamics of different countries in the region.
  3. Examine and discuss the major issues, problems, and challenges facing Latin American countries in the transition to and consolidation of democracy.

Course Contents

The questions that we will address in this course include: What leads to democratic transition in Latin America? Is there any tradeoff between political stability and economic development? Why is it so difficult to build a stable and effective democratic regime in this region? To answer these questions, we will use the analytical tools with theoretical orientations provided by political science to illuminate contemporary Latin America.

This course consists of three parts. In the first part of the semester, we will discuss the historical experiences and international contexts of Latin American countries. In the second part, we will focus on various thematic topics about Latin American politics, such as democratization, neoliberal economic reforms, executive-legislative relations, and the recent resurgence of the left. In the third part, we will examine particular social issues facing Latin American countries, such as social inequality, drug violence, and participatory budgeting. Although this course is organized thematically, we will incorporate episodes of major Latin American countries in our discussion.