Fujimori’s Coup and the Breakdown of Democracy in Latin America

Charles D. Kenney

From the Helen Kellogg Institute for International Studies

Much as Augusto Pinochet’s 1973 coup in Chile stood as a symbol of the challenges of an earlier period, Alberto Fujimori’s 1992 presidential coup became a symbol of the present challenges of democratization in Latin America and the world. In this authoritative book, Charles D. Kenney explores why and how democracy broke down in Peru in 1992. His analysis of Peruvian politics sheds light on the problems of democratic stability in new democracies and points to strategies for preventing future failures in other countries.

Kenney’s central argument is that institutional factors—especially the absence of a legislative majority—played a crucial role in the collapse of democracy in Peru in 1992 and throughout Latin America over the last forty years. This argument, which is theoretically and politically controversial in the case of Peru, is examined alongside alternative explanations of Fujimori’s coup. Kenney tests the Peruvian case study in a cross-national assessment of democratic breakdowns in Latin America since 1960.

Containing a unique compilation of original quantitative data, Fujimori’s Coup and the Breakdown of Democracy in Latin America is the only book-length study to treat this subject. Kenney’s findings will be important for political scientists, scholars of Latin America, and policy makers.

CHARLES D. KENNEY is assistant professor of comparative and Latin American politics at the University of Oklahoma.


”. . . This is the most comprehensive study of the controversial Fujimori presidency in Peru (1999-2000) and its many ramifications. This genuine academic study includes 46 pages of detailed notes and 15 pages of works cited. There is a superb index, and charts enhance the book. Highly recommended.” — Choice

“This is the best book in English or Spanish on Alberto Fujimori’s rise to the Peruvian presidency and his turn to authoritarianism. The book is theoretically engaged, driven by a keen intellect, and well written. I found Kenney’s comparative analysis to be the richest and most insightful treatment of the topic in the literature.” — The Americas

“This book is invaluable in many ways. Most obviously, it is the definitive analysis of Fujimori’s coup, but it also provides a useful political history of Peru through 1992. More generally, it assesses and speaks to various key issues of comparative politics: the effects of weak party-system institutionalisation, the comparative powers of presidencies, both constitutional and partisan, and the causes of democratic breakdowns. It is thus a must-read for all those interested in any of these topics.” — Political Studies Review

“The strength of Kenney’s book lies in its extraordinary amount of original data and research. Few recent works provide such an extensive, detailed account of political developments during the Fujimori presidency. Students of Peru will find the chapters of detailed chronology extremely useful. . . .” — Latin American Research Review

“Charles Kenney’s book is an important contribution to an emergent body of work analyzing the Fujimori years in Peru. . . Kenny provides a glimpse into the years leading up to Fujimori’s 1992 autogolpe, both explaining the event and discussing its consequences for democratic governance in Peru.” — Latin American Politics and Society