Building Democratic Institutions: Party Systems in Latin America

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Scott Mainwaring, Timothy Scully
Stanford University Press, 1995 - Political Science - 578 pages
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This volume fills the need for a comprehensive, up-to-date portrait of parties and party systems in Latin America. It includes chapters on all the large and medium-sized countries, as well as those smaller countries with older democratic traditions: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela. The book is framed by an Introduction that provides a theoretical and comparative conceptual map for charting Latin American party systems and a Conclusion that looks ahead to the challenges and trends for party building in the 1990's. The twelve country case studies address five analytical themes. First, though the primary focus is party politics since around 1980, each chapter explores the origins of party competition. The question of genesis is important not only in its own right, but also because the way parties and party systems originate frequently endows them with enduring features. Second, each chapter assesses the relative strength of parties as actors within the larger political system. In what ways are parties important or unimportant? If they are not leading actors within the political system, who are? Third, the authors investigate the relationship between major parties and the state, revealing the extent to which parties are dependent on state resources to maintain power and win votes. Fourth, the contributions assess the importance of different electoral regimes for shaping broader patterns of party competition. Finally, and most important, the authors characterize the nature of the party system in each country - how institutionalized it is and how it can be classified.

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