How do governments struggling to consolidate new democracies enact effective stabilization and adjustment policies, reform the public sector, and deregulate markets? And what has been the impact of economic liberalization on political institutions and systems of political representation? Treating economic and political transitions as mutually interdependent, this paper couples these questions to suggest a reformulation of the conventional wisdom about how economic liberalization proceeds and how political interests are determined. It challenges the assumption that neoliberal reform is most readily achieved in liberalizing polities when visionary political leaders surrounded by coherent economic teams with comprehensive programs in place act with a wide margin of autonomy from society. It also questions the contention that structures of political representation are the outgrowth of either economic organization or the product of state engineering. The paper makes two arguments. Its central argument is that economic reform is accomplished most readily when government reformers, acting through available clientelistic, corporatist, and party–based networks of mediation, negotiate the compliance of public and private sector representatives of social actors for the introduction of market–oriented reforms. They trade public resources or legislation favoring the representational status of political or social actors in the present for the agreement of those actors to accept diminished state resources for their organizations or constituents in the future. The use of specific networks of negotiation, moreover, influences the design of liberalization policies and helps to account for national differences in the pace and sequence of economic reform measures. The paper's second argument is that those systems of political representation that are strengthened as a result of the temporary advantages that accrue to them during the process of state retreat will endure even when they are incompatible with economic liberalism. This is so because the politicians and group leaders who manage these networks have the opportunity to design institutions that will allow them to accommodate themselves and adapt their power bases to economies in which the market plays a larger role.
Hagopian, Frances. "Negotiating Economic Transitions in Liberalizing Politics: Political Represetation and Economic Reform in Latin America." Working Paper 98–05, Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, Harvard University, May 1998.