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The “Left Turn” in Latin America and Party System Responsiveness

English title The “Left Turn” in Latin America and Party System Responsiveness
Applicant Caramani Daniele
Number 149531
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Institut für Politikwissenschaft Universität Zürich
Institution of higher education University of Zurich - ZH
Main discipline Political science
Start/End 01.02.2014 - 31.01.2017
Approved amount 126'146.00
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Keywords (7)

Linkages; Political Representation; Latin America; Latin American Left; Clientelism; Quality of Democracy; Party systems

Lay Summary (German)

Lead
Parteien erfüllen eine zentrale Rolle in der Demokratie: Sie bringen die Präferenzen der Bürgerinnen und Bürger in den politischen Prozess ein. Dieses Projekt beschäftigt sich mit dem Einfluss der neu erstarkten moderaten und radikalen Linken auf die Qualität der Repräsentation in Lateinamerika, wo sich die Parteien in ihrer Repräsentationsleistung beträchtlich unterscheiden.
Lay summary

 

Inhalt und Ziel des Forschungsprojektes

In historischer Perspektive waren es in Lateinamerika wie in Europa linke Parteien, die mittels ihrer Ideologie für eine Verbreiterung des politischen Spektrums gesorgt haben, die sich dann auch positiv auf die Repräsentation konservativer oder liberaler Präferenzen ausgewirkt hat. In diesem Sinne ist das gegenwärtige Erstarken der Linken interessant: Wird es auch zu einer verbesserten Interessensrepräsentation führen? Wir haben es im gegenwärtigen Lateinamerika aber nicht mit einem, sondern mit zwei ganz verschiedenen Typen von linken Parteien zu tun. Parteien wie die brasilianische Arbeiterpartei PT sind von pragmatischen Politikern und Politikerinnen geprägt, die graduelle soziale Verbesserungen und eine Vertiefung der Demokratie erreichen wollen. In Ländern wie Venezuela, Bolivien und Ecuador propagiert die Linke hingegen einen stärkeren Bruch mit der bisherigen Politik. Trotz ihrer radikaleren Ideologie binden linke Parteien in diesen Ländern aber nicht soziale Gruppen mit spezifischen Interessen an sich, sondern scharen weite Teile der Bevölkerung mittels partikularistischer Leistungen und Geschenke hinter sich. Diese sogenannt klientelistische Mobilisierungsform impliziert, dass Wählerinnen und Wähler ihre Stimme der meistbietenden Partei verkaufen und damit keinen Einfluss auf die substantielle Politikgestaltung mehr nehmen können. Demnach dürfte die populistische Linke nicht den erwarteten positiven Effekt auf die Qualität der Repräsentation haben, den die moderate Linke für sich beanspruchen kann.

 

Wissenschaftlicher und gesellschaftlicher Kontext

Das Projekt verwendet Parlamentarierbefragungen und Bevölkerungsumfragen um festzustellen, wie sich die Qualität der Repräsentation in Ländern mit moderaten und solchen mit radikal-populistischen linken Parteien über die letzten zwanzig Jahre verändert hat. Es leistet damit einen Beitrag zur Frage, wie Unterschiede in der Qualität der Demokratie zwischen Ländern erklärt werden können.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 16.10.2013

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Publication
Will vs. Reason: The Populist and Technocratic Forms of Political Representation and Their Critique to Party Government
Caramani Daniele (2017), Will vs. Reason: The Populist and Technocratic Forms of Political Representation and Their Critique to Party Government, in American Political Science Review, 111(1), 54-67.
Historical Polarization and Representation in South American Party Systems, 1900-1990
Bornschier Simon (2016), Historical Polarization and Representation in South American Party Systems, 1900-1990, in British Journal of Political Science, 1-27.
Ideational and Party-System-Centered Explanations of Populist Success: Latin America and Western Europe Compared
Bornschier Simon, Ideational and Party-System-Centered Explanations of Populist Success: Latin America and Western Europe Compared, in Rovira Kaltwasser Cristóbal, Carlin Ryan E., Littvay Levente, Hawkins Kirk A. (ed.), Routledge, Abingdon, 11.

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
Democratic Accountability and Linkages Project, Prof. Kitschelt (Duke University) United States of America (North America)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
NCCR "Challenges to Democracy in the 21st Century" Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Observatorio de élites parlamentarias en América Latina, University of Salamanaca Spain (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
Research Slam des Lateinamerika-Zentrums der Universität Zürich Talk given at a conference Parties, Representation, and Political Protest in Latin America 21.10.2016 Zürich, Switzerland Bornschier Simon;
European Consortium for Political Research (ECPR) Joint Sessions Talk given at a conference Ideational and Party-System-Centered Explanations of Populist Success: Latin America and Western Europe Compared 24.04.2016 Pisa, Italy Bornschier Simon;
111th Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association (APSA) Talk given at a conference The Impact of Party System Responsiveness on Successful Populist Mobilization Strategies in Western Europe and Latin America 03.09.2015 San Francisco, United States of America Bornschier Simon;
22nd International Conference of Europeanists Talk given at a conference The Impact of Party System Responsiveness on Successful Populist Mobilization Strategies in Western Europe and Latin America 08.07.2015 Paris, France Bornschier Simon;
Solving the Puzzles of Populism: Team Populism May 2015 Conference Talk given at a conference The Impact of Party System Responsiveness on Successful Populist Mobilization Strategies in Western Europe and Latin America 30.04.2015 London, Great Britain and Northern Ireland Bornschier Simon;
Jour Fixe, Zentrum für Sozialpolitik (ZeS), Universität Bremen Individual talk Historical Polarization and Party System Responsiveness in Latin America 18.06.2014 Bremen, Germany Bornschier Simon;


Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
126670 Democratization and the Emergence of Responsive Party Systems in Latin America 01.10.2009 Project funding (Div. I-III)

Abstract

The point of departure of this project are the vast differences in the degree to which party systems reflect voter preferences in contemporary Latin America. These differences are of vital interest for researchers seeking to explain the formation of party systems and how they adapt to changes in social structure, economic conditions, and the international context after the end of the cold war. Explaining differences in party system responsiveness is also central, however, for those interested in the quality of democracy: The responsiveness of representatives to voters preferences is an integral component of a high-quality democracy (e.g., Dahl 1971; Diamond and Morlino 2005; Bühlmann et al. 2008, 2012; Przeworski 2010; Kitschelt et al. 2010a). And there is growing evidence that party systems impinge on other dimensions of the quality of democracy as well (e.g., Chavez 2003, Ríos-Figueroa and Pozas-Loyo 2010). In a prior project, we studied two routes that result in responsive party systems, one historical and one open even to those countries that lack the favorable historical preconditions of the forerunners in terms of responsiveness. In line with Shefter’s (1977, 1994) classical argument, left-wing parties with strong ideological credentials challenged the established political forces in some countries in the early 20th century. Gradually, this crowded out the clientelistic linkages between voters and political patrons that represent the main impediment to programmatic responsiveness. The countries that followed this route still display very high levels of responsiveness today, as our prior research has shown. In the current project, we look at a similar process observable since the process of re-democratization swept Latin American in the 1980s. Although tentatively addressed in the prior project, this process is complicated by the fact that two very different types of left parties have emerged in contemporary Latin America. Although differences in labels abound, theorizing the distinction between the “moderate” and the “populist” or “radical” left has become a major research topic in recent years (Castañeda 2006; Castañeda and Morales 2008; Weyland 2009; Weyland, Madrid, and Hunter 2010, Levitsky and Roberts 2011, Remmer 2012). These authors have hypothesized that policy-based appeals are much more important in the mobilization of the moderate left, while a mixture of charismatic and clientelistic strategies is employed by the populist left. To date, however, this claim rests on shallow empirical foundations. Even more importantly, no empirical research has been conducted on the impact these two types of new leftist parties have on the party system as a whole, and more specifically on the levels of responsiveness it exhibits. This project contributes to these issues in three ways: It develops the difference between the moderate and the populist left in theoretical terms, expands our prior empirical analyses in temporal terms, and explores the dualism of programmatic (responsiveness-enhancing) and clientelistic (responsiveness-blurring) mobilization strategies. We discuss each of these contributions in turn.In theoretical terms, we lack a convincing theoretical rationale for the purposed differences between the moderate and the populist right in terms of clientelistic and programmatic linkages. Often, authors simply assume or observe that clientelism tends to persist in countries with populist left mobilization, while there is some limited evidence from Brazil, for example, that the party system is evolving in the direction of more responsiveness. In empirical terms, the project first expands the analysis of party system responsiveness to roughly 2010, drawing on newly available data. This allows a more reliable assessment of the dynamic in countries with moderate and populist left parties uncovered by our prior analyses. Beyond expanding the analysis to cover the most recent elections in each of the ten countries we study, the follow-up project deepens the analysis. First, we study individual-level preference formation for each of the two types of left parties and assess whether they indeed follow a distinct mobilization logic. Second, we assess to which degree parties employ dual mobilization strategies, targeting different groups of voters either with programmatic appeals or with clientelistic promises. The literature posits a host of hypotheses in this respect, which to date lack a firm micro-level foundation.This project thus contributes to two related, but still distinct literatures. On the one hand, there has been growing interest in explaining variations in party system formation (e.g., Kitschelt et al. 2010c). On the other hand, the study of the two lefts has strongly grown as well, as outlined above. Combining the first perspective, on which our prior research project was based, with the distinction between the two types of left parties both refines our prior argument, and contributes to the literature on the Latin American left.
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