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Democracy, interrupted: Regime change and partisanship in twentieth-century Argentina

Publication Date
DOI:  10.1016/j.electstud.2009.07.005
  • Ecology
  • Political Science


Electoral volatility is much higher in new than in advanced democracies. Some scholars contend that weak partisan ties among the electorate lie behind this high volatility. Political parties in new democracies do not invest in building strong linkages with voters, they claim; hence partisanship is not widespread, nor does it grow over time. Our view is that democratic processes do encourage the spread of partisanship and hence the stabilization of electoral outcomes over time in new democracies. But this dynamic can be masked by countervailing factors and cut short by regime instability. We expect that, all else being equal, volatility will decline over time as a new democracy matures but increase again when democracy is interrupted. We use disaggregated ecological data from Argentina over nearly a century to show that electoral stability grows during democratic periods and erodes during dictatorships.

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