Sanchez-Gomez, Jose: Travel Grant - 2017-2018

College of Arts and Sciences
Project Title: 
The Politics of Constitutional Change in South America’s turn to the Left
Project Abstract: 
This study seeks to explain why, in the context of South America’s turn to the left beginning in 1998, some left-wing governments adopted new constitutions (Venezuela 1999, Ecuador 2008, and Bolivia 2009) while others did not (such as Uruguay 2005, Paraguay 2008, and Chile 2014). Whereas the literature has explained constitutional rewrites as the consequence of regime transitions, international diffusion, changes in political leadership, and political crises, these explanations are insufficient to understand the recent cases in the region. Based on a comparative examination of the countries that turned to the left, this investigation proposes that successful constitutional rewrites are explained by the interaction between leftist (i.e. anti-free-market) social protests and executive control by left-wing outsiders. Where leftist outsiders gain power in the absence of protests, or where protests take place but leftist insiders are elected, opportunities to adopt new constitutions are constrained and governments are more cautious in their projects of institutional change.