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date: 19 October 2019

Summary and Keywords

The variation offered by Latin American legislatures makes them empirically and theoretically relevant to the field of legislative studies. Since the 1980s, the study of these legislatures has experienced significant growth, widening the range of topics covered and the territorial scope of the analysis. Legislative-executive relations, elections and careers, and legislative behavior continue to be the most studied topics. In addition, by the 2010s a greater number of empirical analyses have made use of cross-national comparisons of the region and studied both subnational legislatures and how internal processes and institutions shape legislative outcomes. This academic interest still coexists with a low level of citizen confidence in the legislatures, which are considered to be ineffective in policymaking. In between lies representation. Its study has attracted increased attention in a context of significant changes in descriptive representation in the region, such as the increased presence of women and minorities in legislative bodies. Taking this into account, substantive representation and its limits have been analyzed in terms of (a) the representation of women, minorities, and social classes; (b) bills’ territorial scope and subnational influences; and (c) how legislative organization impacts representation. This connection between citizens and congress members affects citizens’ perceptions of congresses as well as other democratic institutions. Despite its policy implications, this connection is still understudied, as are issues such as interest representation, amendments, and legislative speeches.

Keywords: legislatures, Latin America, representation, descriptive representation, substantive representation, citizen confidence, Latin American politics

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