Authoritarian Inheritance and Conservative Party-Building in Latin America

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Authoritarian Inheritance and Conservative Party-Building in Latin America

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Title: Authoritarian Inheritance and Conservative Party-Building in Latin America
Author: Loxton, James Ivor
Citation: Loxton, James Ivor. 2014. Authoritarian Inheritance and Conservative Party-Building in Latin America. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University.
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Abstract: Beginning in the late 1970s, with the onset of the third wave of democratization, a host of new conservative parties emerged in Latin America. The trajectories of these parties varied tremendously. While some went on to enjoy long-term electoral success, others failed to take root. The most successful new conservative parties all shared a surprising characteristic: they had deep roots in former dictatorships. They were "authoritarian successor parties," or parties founded by high-level incumbents of authoritarian regimes that continue to operate after a transition to democracy. What explains variation in conservative party-building outcomes in Latin America since the onset of the third wave, and why were the most successful new conservative parties also authoritarian successor parties?
This study answers these questions by developing a theory of "authoritarian inheritance." It argues that, paradoxically, close links to former dictatorships may, under some circumstances, be the key to party-building success. This is because authoritarian successor parties sometimes inherit resources from the old regime that are useful under democracy. The study examines five potential resources: party brand, territorial organization, clientelistic networks, business connections and a source of cohesion rooted in a history of joint struggle. New conservative parties that lack such inheritance face a more daunting task. Such parties may have better democratic credentials, but they are likely to have worse democratic prospects.
This argument is developed through an analysis of four parties: Chile's Independent Democratic Union (UDI), Argentina's Union of the Democratic Center (UCEDE), El Salvador's Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA) and Guatemala's Party of National Advancement (PAN). Drawing on interview and archival data gathered during 15 months of fieldwork in five countries, this study contributes to three literatures. First, as the first book-length comparison of conservative parties in Latin America, it contributes to the literature on Latin American politics. Second, by developing a new theory of how successful new parties may emerge--the theory of authoritarian inheritance--it contributes to the literature on party-building. Third, by developing the concept of authoritarian successor parties, it sheds light on a common but underappreciated vestige of authoritarian rule and, in this way, contributes to the literature on regimes.
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Citable link to this page: http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:13070023
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