Americans are so committed to elections and democracy as the only legitimate path to political power that it is sometimes hard to conceive of politics by other means. Moreover US policy-makers tend to believe that elections occupy a higher realm of moral authority, and hope that, with democracy-assistance programs, Latin America and other developing areas will "move beyond" revolutions, coup d'états, general strikes, and other non-electoral routes to power. But as the Silvert quote below indicates, non-electoral paths may still be pursued especially in crisis circumstances; furthermore, these extra-electoral means may enjoy both legitimacy and constitutional mandate. In this article we test these propositions as they apply in Latin America.
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