Improving citizen participation in local government in Latin America through international cooperation: a case study

Issues related to democratic restructuring and citizenship at the municipal level in Latin America have been the subject of increasing interest and debate among scholars and development practitioners in recent years. This study investigates how international cooperation may facilitate enhanced citizen participation in local-level decision making in the region through examination of a specific Canadian-sponsored linking project involving the cities of Charlesbourg, Quebec (Canada) and Ovalle (Chile). The study presents a relatively optimistic account of the role which innovations transferred as a result of this project have played in enhancing citizen involvement in local government. At the same time, it suggests that any such gains may be limited and must be viewed within the larger politico-administrative context in Latin America and attendant factors restricting the establishment of a broad democratic culture at the local level.