Entrants in the political arena: new party trajectories during the third wave of democracy in Latin America Public Deposited

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  • March 20, 2019
  • Mustillo, Thomas J.
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Political Science
  • The frequency and impact of new parties in Latin America’s new democracies has been profound, especially in comparison to their role in established democracies. From the relatively stable Chile and Uruguay to the highly volatile Ecuador and Bolivia, new entrants have altered national party systems. The electoral fortunes of new parties have been diverse. Most studies of new parties dichotomously classify them into successes and failures. In the more stable party systems of the world, this approach may be sufficient. However, in unstable systems of the developing world where volatility is high, the quality of representation is low, and parties are weakly institutionalized, we are likely to find more than two distinctive categories of party performance. This project begins with an analysis of the legislative electoral performance of all new parties from Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador and Venezuela using latent trajectory models and finds that there are five distinctive performance profiles among the population. I call these groups the explosive, contender, flash, flat and flop trajectories and classify each party into one group. In the relative stability of Chile there are parties of two types while the other systems have more diversity. Theories of new party success have largely focused on advanced party systems where party competition and linkages with voters are centered around issues and programs. Party systems in Latin America don’t often follow this logic. When they don’t, these theories can’t explain new party performance. In the second part of this project I use a nested research design—a small-N qualitative analysis of new parties in Ecuador nested in a large-N quantitative analysis of new parties in Ecuador, Venezuela and Bolivia—to build and test an alternative explanation of new party performance centered on organizational features of the parties, and specifically on their programmatic, machine, personalistic, or vote-buying strategic orientation. I find that in unstable party systems, to be a contender a new party must build a national network of machine-based linkages with constituents that are geographically rather than economically or socially defined; have access to considerable discretionary resources; and be weakly constrained by organizationally articulated programmatic demands.
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  • Hartlyn, Jonathan
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