Political Cleavages in
The global process of democratization during the 1980s and 1990s has brought political competition to societies previously characterized by one- party systems or by military regimes. With this new political competition comes the need to understand it. As it is argued throughout this book, party competition is shaped by issue-oriented cleavage dimensions. Societies divide not only on the basis of structural differences such as ethnicity and class but also on the basis of their views and preferences on political, economic, cultural, and social issues. In some cases, structural and issue divisions are closely linked. In other cases, issue orientations crosscut structural divisions. Divisions on issue orientations are likely to form important political cleavages if those divisions are connected with party preferences. As has been shown in the previous chapters, issue orientations are an important source of political cleavage in advanced industrial society and in post-Communist new democracies. This chapter focuses on political cleavages in Latin America and follows the idea that party competition in the new Latin American democracies has been strongly influenced by dividing views on democracy, views that define a strong democratic-authoritarian cleavage.
Based on World Values Survey data, I have identified several groups of societies--including newly democratic or transitional societies--characterized by their issue configurations and the political cleavages based on those configurations. The issue configurations found in the analysis reflect the classic socioeconomic left-right cleavage, on the one hand, and a democratic-authoritarian cleavage, on the other. More specifically, the cleavage of authoritarian versus democratic government refers to the issues of democratization, political reform, and authority that are particularly salient in transitional and newly democratic contexts. Empirical evidence from the early 1990s supports the idea that in many new democracies the main political cleavage is defined