SIGLA (States and Institutions of Governance in Latin America) is an online multilingual database that provides systematic information on legal and political institutions in Latin America. Free to use, SIGLA democratizes access to data about governance in the region.
By freely disseminating accurate information about states and institutions of governance in Latin America, SIGLA aims to enhance government transparency and empower scholars, government actors, business leaders, and civil society organizations in the region and around the world to conduct empirical research and make well-informed policy, commercial, and advocacy decisions.
The SIGLA database is hosted by Georgetown University and its Center for Latin American Studies, and the SIGLA project is directed by Diana Kapiszewski (associate professor in Georgetown’s Department of Government). With the support of generous funding from a range of institutions (see the “Acknowledgements” page), the beta version of SIGLA launched in April 2022 with current information in English on the Constitution, Codes, the Legislature, the Executive, and Elections in Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico, as well as on a range of International Institutions.
For each institution included in the database, SIGLA provides general information; data about the institution’s functions and powers; data that facilitate the measurement of key institutional characteristics such as accessibility, independence, and authority; and information on membership and leadership. In addition, SIGLA identifies the key laws, decrees, and other elements of the legal framework governing the actions and procedures of each institution.
Ultimately, SIGLA will provide cross-nationally comparable, current and historical, qualitative and quantitative data on dozens of institutions of governance (see SIGLA’s Institutional Matrix for a complete list). Eventually, the database will include information on 20 Latin American countries in English, Spanish, and Portuguese. Over time, SIGLA will identify institutional partners in Latin America with which to collaborate on data collection and interpretation.
SIGLA’s predecessor, the Political Database of the Americas (PDBA), launched in 1995 as a joint project between Georgetown’s Center for Latin American Studies and the Secretariat for Political Affairs at the Organization of American States. The PDBA, which covered 35 countries in the Americas, was created at a time when democratic backsliding was a key concern and consequently focused on constitutions and democratic institutions. At its peak, over 600,000 users per month visited the website’s more than 1,500 pages. In 2010, new investment in the project ceased and the PDBA was decommissioned, leaving a vacuum for scholars and others interested in Latin American political institutions. SIGLA narrows the PDBA’s geographic focus to 20 Latin American countries and expands its substantive focus to include data on legal as well as political institutions, reflecting the increased concern with the rule of law and the quality of democratic governance in the region.