National Legislatures, Democracy and Foreign Policy: a comparative study of Brazil, Chile and Mexico

At the end of each electoral cycle it becomes clear that foreign policy has become one of the key dimensions connecting democracy and development in Latin America. Regional integration, international security, international trade agreements, legislation on international migration, energy and regulation are some among many international issues that have become frequent, and sometimes polarized, in national electoral debates. Contrary to the predictions that Latin-American countries would inevitably, from the 1990s, move towards a convergent model of development dictated by the competitive integration into the world economy, what was seen in the countries of the region was the emergency of hard-fought disputes concerning the concepts of development and the confrontation of ideas from political coalitions, political parties and national elites. The degree of polarization in these political disputes or otherwise the level of ideological convergence varies from country to country. For instance, political disputes tend to be more polarized in Argentina and Mexico than Brazil and Chile. Similarly, institutional structures are quite distinct, especially regarding legislative-executive relations at the national level, institutions responsible for bridging the gap between Society and Governments on foreign policy. The fundamental objective of this project is to analyze the evolution of both the institutional role and the performance of national legislatures on foreign policy in four countries: Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Mexico. Besides updating the analysis on the connections among Society, Legislatures and Foreign Policy, the original contribution of this research refers to the systematic way in which the comparison of the political-institutional dimension is dealt with in the field of Latin American foreign policy, an aspect that has traditionally received little attention by the international literature.


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