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16 March Dr Pablo Calderón Martínez, Languages and Translation Studies, Aston University and Erick G. Palomares, Universidad Complutense de Madrid

From Transition to Indignation in Spain and Mexico: Some Problems with the Definition(s) of Democracy


The main purpose of this paper is to argue that the perceived degree of success of transitions to democracy has much to do, in a first instance, with how democracy is defined. This paper will conduct a brief comparative study of how recent social movements calling for "democracy" in Spain and Mexico have been sparked not necessarily by the “failure” of the democratisation processes (as has been claimed in some circles) but rather by the evolution of the social understanding of democracy. To this end, this article will, first of all, present a theoretical overview of how the concept of democracy has evolved (specifically how democracy is operationalized). In a second instance this paper seeks to make an analytical proposal that may help us develop a better understanding of the social movements’ claims and objectives in both countries. We suggest that the claims and demands by social movements in Spain (Indignados) and Mexico (#yosoy132) cannot be understood by solely focusing on the defects or omissions in the “pacts” that shaped the respective transitions in Spain and Mexico. We believe that the demands (if you can call them that way) that emanate from both movements are the result of two processes of democratisation not necessarily incomplete or failed, but two successful processes within the minimalist parameters by which democracy was understood during their respective transitions. In a nutshell: it is not a failure of process but of definition.