Party Competition in Argentina and Chile: Political Recruitment and Public Policy, 1890-1930

Party Competition in Argentina and Chile: Political Recruitment and Public Policy, 1890-1930

Party Competition in Argentina and Chile: Political Recruitment and Public Policy, 1890-1930

Party Competition in Argentina and Chile: Political Recruitment and Public Policy, 1890-1930

Excerpt

A regime without parties is, of necessity, a conservative regime.

Maurice Duverger

Political parties...are the only devices thus far invented by the wit of Western man which with some effectiveness can generate countervailing collective power on behalf of the many individually powerless against the relatively few who are individually -- or organizationally -- powerful.

Walter Dean Burnham

Assumptions about the importance of political parties and electoral competition pervade modern normative conceptions of democracy as well as empirical research in the field of comparative politics. In the case of Latin America, research for more than three decades has centered on the problems of explaining the breakdown of competitive party politics and the emergence of military rule. The sheer volume of scholarly interest in these questions suggests that regime changes affect not only how a country is ruled, but for whom and for what it is ruled. Yet, despite a growing literature on the relationship between political variables and public policy, the consequences of the political structures, rules, and procedures that define competitive regimes remain very much open to question.

Similarly, great importance has been ascribed to political parties, even in those parts of the world where they are relatively fragile institutions. Political systems with parties are almost universally regarded as more "advanced," "modern," or "developed" than those without them. The implication is that party development does not merely reflect socioeconomic change; it fundamentally alters the operation of the political system and shapes political outcomes. Again, the comparative evidence is rather weak.

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