Kent Eaton is a Professor of Politics at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Over the last twenty-five years he has lived and worked extensively in Latin America. His research on politics in the region has been published in Comparative Politics, Latin American Politics and Society, Latin American Research Review, Politics and Society, and Security Studies. He is also the author/editor of three monographs on decentralization, including The Democratic Decentralization Programming Handbook (USAID, 2009), The Political Economy of Decentralization Reforms: Implications for Aid Effectiveness (The World Bank, 2010), and Making Decentralization Work: Democracy, Development and Security (Lynne Rienner Press, 2010). Before joining the faculty at UCSC in 2006, he taught at the Naval Postgraduate School and at the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton.

Project Summary

This research project explores how the right is responding to the left’s newfound electoral dominance in Latin America. I argue that the obsolescence of established strategies relied upon by the right, combined with the severity of emerging threats from the left, have led political actors on the right to experiment with new strategies. Focusing on Bolivia, Ecuador, and Peru, my research examines the viability of these new strategies, some of which appear to mimic strategies traditionally associated with the left. By investigating how the right is reacting to Latin America’s “left turn,” this project has direct implications for U.S. policy. Whereas the right’s response to electoral setbacks in the past was typically negative for democracy, its current responses, which include sheltering in subnational governments, promoting social movement activities, and engaging in identity politics, are likely to have a more differentiated impact on democratic governance.

Major Publications

“Recentralization and the Left Turn in Latin America: Diverging Outcomes in Bolivia, Ecuador and Venezuela,” Comparative Political Studies 47 (8): 2014: 1130-57

“Latin America’s Resurgent Center: National Government Strategies after Decentralization,” Journal of Development Studies 49 (11) 2013: 1453-1466

Politics beyond the Capital: The Design of Subnational Institutions in South America (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2004)