TITLE: Political Database of the Americas

ACCESS: http://www.georgetown.edu/pdba/

The Political Database of the Americas (PDBA), a collaborative effort of Georgetown University's Center for Latin American Studies and the Organization of American States, defines its mission as "filling a void in the electronic informational resour ces available to students, academics, policy analysts, and government officials in Latin American politics." The underlying hope is that by providing free access to primary sources of political information on countries in North and South America, the PDB A will contribute towards democratization in the region.

The multilingual site (English, Spanish, Portuguese, and French) is arranged into eight subject areas: Constitutions and Constitutional Studies; Electoral Systems and Election Data; Civil Society, Public Opinion, and Democratic Values; Political Part ies; Executive Institutions; Legislative Institutions; Judicial Institutions; and Organic Legislation. Each main subject area is further divided by type of information available: Reference Materials, Primary Documents, and Statistical Data, dependent upo n the subject. Types of data considered to be Reference Materials encompass: bibliographies; lists of contacts and web sites for many governmental and non-governmental agencies and political parties; chronologies of presidents; and governmental and judici al organizational charts. Information available under Primary Documents include: constitutions; election laws; political party laws; and organic legislation, such as the Honduran Declaration on Human Rights. Statistical data which may be accessed through PDBA are breakdowns of party representations in national legislatures and electi on results. Much of the content made available through PDBA is in the form of links to web sites in different countries which provide political data, as well as to regional newspapers. However, the site does offer the unique "Comparative Analysis of the Constitutions of Countries with Presidential Regimes," Specially developed for the PDBA, this section compares national constitutions section by section (for example, Brazil's constitutional preamble vs. Argentina's constitutional preamble) or by subject areas such as human rights, executive powers, or environmental protection. Most of the primary source data on PDBA is only available in the language of the country of origin, including the constitutional comparisons. The entire site can be searched by k eyword or by country.

The Political Database of the Americas should prove to be a very useful resource for students of Latin American history and politics, or anyone interested in constitutional issues and elections. I hope that the developers of this web site continue to link additional resources as they become available.

Geraldine Foudy
SUNY Stony Brook
March 1999

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