The Limits of Popular Participation in Salvador, Brazil

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This article focuses on the changing nature of state-society interactions in the state of Bahia, Brazil and on the factors that condition democratic participation. During several research trips, conducted between 2001 and 2006, I collected data on participatory budgeting and on participatory urban planning in the city of Salvador. I was therefore able to compare two thematic sites where local states interacted with society in general, and with civil society speci?cally. In both cases, I found a very wide gap between the de jure mandate of citizen participation and the de facto state of affairs. The examined empirical cases point to some of the conditionalities of democratic participation at the local level. The existence of this gap between law and reality can, in part, be explained by the continued importance of ‘Carlismo’ as a way of doing local politics in Bahia and therefore, to the persistence of local political regimes persisting despite changes in political leadership.

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Journal of Developing Societies, v. 24, issue 3, p. 337-354