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Civil Society Initiatives in Brazilian Representative Democracy Election Processes

Wed, July 11, 9:00 to 10:30am, Room, 13A 33


Brazil, in the last decades, has become internationally recognized for its innovations to participatory democracy. However, little research has been done about democratic innovations proposed by the civil society within representative democracy. Leveraging on a working paper presented at ISTR LAC, this proposal intends to expand that paper analysis by doing in-depth research of two initi atives taking place in Brazil at the moment: Bancada Ativista and Vamos. These case studies will serve to answer the following question: how are civil society initiatives improving representative democracy?
In the current scenario of a democratic crisis in Brazil (and other Latin American countries), social movements and civil society are joining together in order to discuss and provide new perspectives for several challenges, such as party transparency, political leadership development and elections. Besides advocacy for making and changing laws, some of those initiatives have been intrinsically involved in the electoral process by proposing candidates who come from social activism and new campaign strategies, more concerned with the pedagogical aspect of electoral processes.
The theoretical background supporting this research will be composed mainly by the works of four contemporary authors: Pinzani (2013) and Gutman (1995), regarding the critics of the current electoral process as well as political apathy; Habermas (1984; 1996), concerning his model for the circulation of power, the communicative action theory and deliberative democracy; and Urbinati (2006), who extended the limits of the juridical and procedural representations to the political representation. The objective of the paper will be to establish a dialogue between the practices of those initiatives and the potential of the political representation democracy. In other words, to discuss if similar groups and actions are expanding the limits of what has been called representative democracy in elections.
The research will be conducted as a collective case study (Stake, 1998). Data will be collected by carrying out interviews with leaders and participants from both groups, by participative observation and by documental analysis of articles and statements related to the initiatives available at websites and social media.
The expected results of this research are critical analyses of the initiatives under the light of the new representative democracy theory. Thus, we expect to provide civil society movements with insights on their activities and proposals as well as to shed light on new possibilities for the democratic election process.