Yes, I know there are versions of authoritarian socialism in South America that have been tried, but I want to know if there are any successful democratic socialist communities that lasted at least twenty years (since the US Census Bureau designates a generation based on the 20 year timespan of the Baby Boomer Generation) and were located in South America or Latin Amerca. The only communities close to these criteria I have found have not lasted very long like Argentinian Horizontalidad and Oaxaca City.

To make things clearer, I'm looking for a country or at least autonomous / semi-autonomous community that existed for 20 years in Latin America or South America that successfully practiced democratic socialism.

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    It seems somewhat unlikely, as part of the nature of "democratic" is the willingness to accept being voted out of power. Democratic socialist groups, such as the Labour Party of the UK, accept that they will not always be in power.
    – James K
    Commented Mar 4, 2023 at 20:07
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    communities is really unclear in this context. James K has 2 upvotes in a comment indicating that they understand your meaning as government (getting voted in and out of power). while the two examples you give seem more political movements, rather than a community. I would also not count too much in the way of Argentinian leftist movements as "successful" by any metrics - not after numerous defaults and increased poverty and corruption. Maybe Lula's Bolsa Familia would count as successful policy, but that's not a community Commented Mar 4, 2023 at 23:27
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    So would you accept "Bolivia", it has had a democratic system since 1982, and has generally elected left wing governments (notably the Morales gov. from 2005 to 2019). And it has had its share of crisis, turmoil, (particularly in 2019) but this was ultimately resolved by elections, not guns. Economically, Bolivia is poorer than its neighbours, but it doesn't have the most favourable location (landlocked, etc)
    – James K
    Commented Mar 5, 2023 at 13:25
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    There was a tendency for democratic & socialist governments in south america to be overthrown by or with the help of the US, often to install right-wing dictators. So such a government not existing doesn't necessarily say much about its practicality or value, and more about the history of international relations between south america and the US.
    – tim
    Commented Mar 5, 2023 at 14:16
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    Can't say to the community level governments but 20 years of national same-party rule is something that I would find concerning, rather than a success.And that is even if I liked the policy of the government in question. A successful democracy party influences the policies of its opponents, it doesn't crowd/keep them out. There is just too much scope for capture and the loss of competitive elections. Re. asking for a definition, maybe you should link to en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democratic_socialism if you have that definition in mind.? Commented Mar 5, 2023 at 18:31

2 Answers 2



The dictatorship was overthrown in 1982, and since then it has been generally democratic. Most governments have been left-of-centre. It has had moderate economic success. It certainly isn't Venezuela, although it is poorer than it neighbours. There have been the usual crises that occur in many poorer newly democratic states, but notably, the last crisis in 2019 was resolved by elections, and not by men with guns.

Its economy has been growing recently, largely thanks to natural gas exports. And the government retains popular support. Even during times of centre-right government, the left was not utterly rejected. It is to be expected that a democratic-socialist government will lose some elections - accepting the loss and coming back next time is what makes a democracy.

So generally Democratic Socialist, generally successful, it seems to satisfy the requirements for a country in South America.

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    One of the ironies of Bolivia is that Hugo Banzer was both its dictator (1971-1978) and later elected president (1997-2001). Commented Mar 7, 2023 at 19:29
  • Did the center-right governments change the economy past where it wouldn't be considered socialist anymore?
    – user4012
    Commented Apr 11, 2023 at 0:45

Ok, so apparently in addition to the good Bolivia answer that was given by James K, there is apparently a community in El Alto, Bolivia that acts as an autonomous community called Federation of Neighborhood Councils-El Alto or FEJUVE for short. This community operates on a form of anarcho-mutualism - a form of socialism and left-libertarianism based around free markets and usufruct (occupation and use property norms) according to Community Organizing and Rebellion: Neighborhood Councils in El Alto, Bolivia by Emily Achtenbergy. The community operates in the form of participatory democracy based on over six hundred neighborhood councils that hold monthly assemblies and make decisions based on democratic consensus. he community has been around since 1979 - so it has been around for over 44 years, operates as an autonomous community, and has a population of over 114,000 people.

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