Political parties provide a crucial link between voters and politicians. This link takes a variety of forms in democratic regimes, from the organization of political machines built around clientelistic networks to the establishment of sophisticated programmatic parties. Latin American Party Systems provides a novel theoretical argument to account for differences in the degree to which political party systems in the region were programmatically structured at the end of the twentieth century. Based on a diverse array of indicators and surveys of party legislators and public opinion, the book argues that learning and adaptation through fundamental policy innovations are the main mechanisms by which politicians build programmatic parties. Marshalling extensive evidence, the book's analysis shows the limits of alternative explanations and substantiates a sanguine view of programmatic competition, nevertheless recognizing that this form of party system organization is far from ubiquitous and enduring in Latin America.
Herbert Kitschelt is the George V. Allen Professor of International Relations in Duke University's Political Science Department. He has published widely on comparative political parties and party systems in Western Europe and postcommunist Eastern Europe and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Kirk Hawkins is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Brigham Young University. He is the author of The Discourse of Populism: Venezuela's Chavismo in Comparative Perspective (Cambridge University Press). He has published work on political parties and populist movements and his current research focuses on the analysis of political culture. Juan Pablo Luna is Associate Professor of Political Science at the Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile. His dissertation on party voter linkages in Chile and Uruguay won the 2008 Juan Linz Best Dissertation Award of APSA's Comparative Democratization Section. Guillermo Rosas is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Washington University in St. Louis. He is the author of Curbing Bailouts: Banking Crises and Electoral Accountability in Comparative Perspective (University of Michigan Press). His research interests center on political economy and legislative politics. Elizabeth Zechmeister is Assistant Professor of Political Science and Assistant Director of the Latin American Public Opinion Project at Vanderbilt University. She is the author, with Jennifer Merolla, of Democracy at Risk: How Terrorist Threats Affect the Public (University of Chicago Press). Her research interests are in comparative political behavior with a regional focus on Latin America.
Introduction: party competition in Latin America; 1. Patterns of programmatic party competition in Latin America; Part I. Describing Programmatic Structuration: 2. Issues, ideologies, and partisan divides: imprints of programmatic structure in Latin American legislatures; 3. Left-right semantics as a facilitator of programmatic structuring; 4. Political representation in Latin America; 5. Ideological cohesion of political parties in Latin America; Part II. Causes and Correlates of Programmatic Party System Structuration: Explaining Cross-National Diversity: 6. Long-term influences on the structuring of Latin American Party systems; 7. Democratic politics and political economy since the 1980s: transforming the programmatic structure of Latin American party systems?; 8. Programmatic structuration around religion and political regime; 9. Programmatic structuration and democratic performance; Conclusion.