Skip to main content
Democracy on Stilts: Bolivia's Democracy from Stability to Crisis
  • Miguel Centellas, Western Michigan University
Bolivia’s recent political crisis starkly contrasts to the preceding two decades of relative democratic stability. Though a unique system of “parliamentarized” presidentialism together with lingering consensus on the national project inherited from the 1952 Revolution supported democratic stability, using qualitative and quantitative methods, this study shows that seemingly benign changes in institutional design made in the 1990s contributed to the acceleration of already existing tendencies towards divisive sectoral, regional, and ethnic politics. A key observation is that successful long-term democratization requires institutions for adequately channeling and representing social demands as well as a shared vision of a political “imagined community” that encourages both pluralism and civic attachment. The study ends with a discussion of the ongoing political crisis and speculation about when and to what degree institutional design can help promote nation building in divided societies.
  • Bolivia,
  • mixed-member electoral system,
  • political parties,
  • politics,
  • democracy,
  • democratization
Publication Date
April, 2007
Citation Information
Miguel Centellas. "Democracy on Stilts: Bolivia's Democracy from Stability to Crisis" (2007)
Available at: