Programmatic and non-programmatic party-voter linkages in two institutionalized party systems: Chile and Uruguay in comparative perspective Public Deposited

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  • March 21, 2019
  • Luna Fariña, Juan Pablo
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Political Science
  • Failures in political representation are a key hindrance to the quality of democracy in Latin America, and the degree to which parties link to voters on a programmatic basis is crucial for the quality of representation. This dissertation analyzes the nature of party-voter linkages in two highly institutionalized party-systems of the region: Chile and Uruguay. Both cases should produce high-quality representation given certain important preconditions: partisan capacities, democratic contestation opportunities, and potential for grievance mobilization. However, this work shows that even in these best case scenarios the possibilities for structuring programmatic representation in contemporary Latin America are low. I explain differences in political representation through a framework of conjunctural causation that incorporates the long-term evolution of social and state structures into the analysis of party-systems and party-voter linkage configurations. Performing a multi-level comparison combining survey research and extensive fieldwork in paired-sample districts representing divergent causal configurations, I explain predominant linkage configurations in each country and district. My evidence shows that: a) while in the 1990s programmatic linkages have weakened in Chile, they have strengthened in Uruguay; b) significant levels of socioeconomic segmentation of programmatic linkages exist in Chile with upper classes linking to parties according to their programmatic preferences, while low-educated voters present extreme programmatic confusion and a combination of alienation from politics and instances of strongly localized, non-partisan (personalized), and non-programmatic linkages with candidates (financed by private-sector contributions, illegal municipal contracting, or focalized social policy); c) in Uruguay, economic crises have weakened traditional parties' clientelistic machines, reinforcing discontent with both parties and generating the opportunity for the leftwing Frente Amplio to grow by programmatically opposing neoliberal reforms; d) nonetheless, in a relatively favorable systemic context, a weaker pattern of segmented linkage strategies also emerged in Uruguay. Institutional and elite-centered analyses have predominated in the literature on political representation. The main theoretical contribution of this work is to bring society and informal institutions 'back in' to the analysis. This provides a more comprehensive understanding of the complex combination of variables that interact --usually over a long period of time--to cause different patterns of "representation" in a given society.
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  • Huber, Evelyne
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  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
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