Government in the era of globalization is more complex than it once was: from the ‘outside’ powerful economic forces constrain decision making and from the ‘inside’ the state finds itself ‘hollowed-out’ by the neo-liberal reforms (see Chapter 4). We thus increasingly refer now to ‘governance’ that implies a process of steering (rather than dictating) society and the economy. This chapter thus addresses, in the first instance, the elements and contemporary forms that the electoral and political party systems have taken across Latin America. We next address the way the law has operated, or not operated, to govern society and to provide the ‘rule of law’ deemed necessary for democracy to prosper. We turn then to the role of the state bureaucracy in administering society, from the state-led industrialization period onwards. Finally, we critically examine the role of the NGOs (non-governmental organizations) that, to some extent, have filled the gap created by the ‘hollowing-out’ of the state in the era of free-market rule.
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