then need to set aside at least modest support for such initiatives. Support might also be
leveraged for such efforts from the PAS and Fulbright Commission (for overseas exchanges or
study tours), the NDI and IRI, other private organizations such as the Inter American Dialogue,
and other U.S. and European donors.
Ensure diversity and inclusion.
Social elitism and the lack of generational turnover were among
the many criticisms aimed at the parties of the 1980s. Although the priority problem here has
been identified as competition, it would be important to ensure a concern for diversity and
inclusion in these new activities. In particular, the involvement of women, youths,
and indigenous leaders should be promoted.
A less fragmented but more socially diverse political society, consisting of stronger networks
and alliances around holding government accountable on common concerns, and a broader and more
diverse set of potential leaders in the effort to restore political parties as effective checks and balances on
central power. Furthermore, increased public recognition of the importance of political parties and the
need to rebuild a working party system in this case. Dialogue and consensus building about legislative
and other reforms that could help overcome party fragmentation.
: If such activities are effective, USAID will have identified opportunities for influencing
legislative and constitutional reform in this area, and candidates for inclusion in more traditional political
leadership and party strengthening efforts when future opportunities emerge.
Similarly (and more so if opportunities for party development prove limited), USAID could identify
counterparts for broader civil society strengthening activities, such as the promotion of a more enabling
tax and regulatory framework, mechanisms of self regulation, the promotion of national philanthropy,
and the development of greater sectoral identity and collective action among nonprofits through peak
associations (such as the Independent Sector in the U.S. or
in Brazil) or
alternative media networks (such as
magazine in Argentina or the virtual
Red de la
Congress does not fulfill its formal role as a counterweight to the Executive and passes laws
of questionable constitutionality that undermine the ability of other actors to engage in free and fair
Furthermore, Congressional majorities elected in 1992 and 1995 did not respect the rights
of the opposition minority, restricting competition of ideas and policy positions in this arena itself.
The legislative branch is weak for a number of reasons, including the current election rules,
the structure and criteria of representation, and the weak and transitory nature of the political parties
represented in Congress. Furthermore, to date a disciplined and submissive pro government majority has
delegated its legislative initiative and authority to the Executive branch.
Despite its weakness, Congress has become a more modern and transparent organization
over the last decade. Information on the voting record of legislators and contents of bills passed is now
publicly available. Although the link between legislators and constituents is weak, there are mechanisms
in the Constitution that allow civil society organizations and local governments to initiate legislation, or
to propose a referendum on current policy concerns.
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