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Wills-Otero, Laura (2011) LATIN AMERICAN TRADITIONAL PARTIES: THE IMPACT OF PARTIES' INTERNAL FEATURES ON THEIR ELECTORAL PERFORMANCE, 1978-2006. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Why do some parties suffer more than others under similar contextual conditions? Or why are some parties able to weather difficult external environments while others fail? The aim of this dissertation is to answer these questions. My argument claims that the internal organization of parties matters, because it affects their capacity to react and survive, especially in contexts of environmental changes. Specifically, parties that rely on vertical structures, where few leaders at the central level concentrate power and control the party's direction, are more likely to lose their political power in changing contexts than parties that rely on structures that are less hierarchical, where power is distributed among different leaders, and where leadership mobility is more likely to occur. Similarly, parties that lack democratic procedures for selecting their candidates suffer more in challenging environments than parties that have them. In non-democratic parties central leaders decide whom to nominate for public office, and party members and voters do not enjoy the possibility of participating in this process. The impossibility of voting for politicians that the electorate and party members prefer might lead them to withdraw their support for the organization. This is of particular relevance in times of crisis.This argument is developed through the observation of Latin America's traditional parties. These parties dominated the political arena in the region during the last decades of the twentieth century. They played a significant role in the legitimation of democratic politics in particular when countries transited from authoritarian regimes, and in policy- making processes. However, during the early years of the 21st Century (2000-2005), many of them faded, and political outsiders with antiestablishment discourses and new parties and political movements flourished. Other traditional parties survived and were able to respond successfully to contextual challenges successfully. The findings of the study indicate that the internal characteristics of parties matter. Empirical tests show that party characteristics mediate the responses that their leaders undertake as well as the resulting electoral outcomes. This finding adds to studies that focus attention on political parties as units of analyses.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairPérez-Liñán, Aníbalasp27@pitt.eduASP27
Committee MemberBejarano, Ana Marí
Committee Member Ames,
Committee MemberFinkel, Steve finkel@pitt.eduFINKEL
Date: 1 July 2011
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 6 December 2010
Approval Date: 1 July 2011
Submission Date: 11 January 2011
Access Restriction: 5 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 5 years.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Political Science
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Comparative Politics; Electoral Reform; Internal Structure of Parties; Latin American Politics; Political Parties
Other ID:, etd-01112011-171510
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:31
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:36


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