Regime Legacies and Variance in the Level of Democracy: Latin America, 1978-2004
23 Pages Posted: 19 Jul 2010 Last revised: 28 Aug 2010
Date Written: 2010
In this paper we analyze the level of democracy achieved by 19 Latin American countries after 1977, in the period between the transitions from authoritarian rule and 2004. Our study shows enduring regime legacies: we create novel indicators to show that democratic and authoritarian trajectories are institutionalized through political parties. Despite authoritarian interruptions in the past, one of the best predictors of the current level of democracy is the country’s experience with competitive politics during the “first” (1900-44) and the “second” (1945-77) waves (and counter waves) of democratization. We document the impact of regime legacies using a fixed-effects vector decomposition model. Our finding modifies theoretical claims about “path dependence” in democratization and leads us to the concept of institutional reproduction as a the causal mechanism underpinning regime legacies.
Keywords: democratization, Latin America, party institutionalization, regime legacies, institutional reproduction
JEL Classification: C33
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