The Role of the Political Parties in the
Redemocratization of Uruguay
Edy
Kaufman
o
Introduction
Twhat
he first dilemma I encountered in the preparation of this essay was
to call it: can we talk about "redemocratization"? At the level of
intention the consensus is affirmative, although any claim that the
supremacy of the civilian political forces over the military is again what it
was before the
autogolpe,
or "self-coup," of 1973 would be premature. The
Uruguayan military had spent most of the twentieth century in virginal
seclusion from political life. And once they tasted power, they may have
learned a lesson and developed a new appetite for it. The extent of their
return to the barracks is an important matter for analysis here.
With that in mind, we will also have to take up a second question related
to the dynamics of the process of liberalization which the Brazilians have
called
descompressao,'
or "decompression": in the Uruguayan case specifi-
cally, to what extent was the decompression known as
apertura,
or "open-
ing," a victory of the political parties and other social groups over the Armed
Forces? Is the situation in Uruguay comparable to that of Argentina, where,
according to one expert, the military government which collapsed in De-
cember 1983 had invited its own defeat? "Far from being overcome by a
formidable opposition, the armed forces, through their own blunders and
inadequacies, opened up a political space which their adversaries gladly
occupied" (Pion-Berlin 1985, 71).
A third point: it would also be possible to reject a "zero sum" concept in
which the weakening of the military could be either the result or the cause of
the strengthening of the political parties. Many other variables may have
played a role, and it would be importantto identify them. Even more, instead
of concluding after the fact that such a bivariate relationship may have
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