Political Cleavages: Issues, Parties, and the Consolidation of Democracy


In Political Cleavages in the 1990s: Issues, Parties, and the Consolidation of Democracy, Alejandro Moreno argues that the political split between authoritarian and democratic ideologies is the main determinant of party competition in less-developed, relatively new democracies. That is, political competition is drawn between those parties that propose to further democratic consolidation and those that advocate a return to authoritarian order. Moreno compares political cleavages in new democracies (including several in Latin America) with political conflict in advanced industrial democracies, demonstrating that there are similar ideological dimensions of competition that reflect the most salient issues in society. Based on empirical evidence from the 1990 and 1995 World Values Surveys, the author argues that political cleavages based on ideological orientations are subject to change, given the increasingly salient issues in society that range from politics and economics to religion and morality. He presents evidence that the democratic-authoritarian cleavage is a temporary one and that it fades as new democracies take steps toward consolidation. The focus on mass electorates confirms the importance of ideology in party competition, but also demonstrates the strength of class differences in explaining voters' self-placements on political, economic and cultural dimensions in old and new democracies. In sum, the book offers a great amount of evidence about where party electorates in several countries stand on different issue dimensions, and how they form relevant political cleavages.

Additional information

Publisher: Place of publication:
  • Boulder, CO
Publication year:
  • 1999


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