The major theories of democratization have difficulties explaining differences in the consolidation of democracy across Latin America. This project focuses on an important component of representative democracy, the emergence of party systems that mirror voter preferences.
I postulate two routes to programmatic party competition. One is historical and took place during the first wave of democratization in the early 20th century, similar to the formation of ideological cleavages in Western Europe. The other is more recent and depends on the presence of new parties that actively seek to overcome clientelistic patterns of mobilization.
I study the first route by adopting a “Rokkanian” perspective that focuses on critical junctures and historical legacies that set countries apart (Lipset and Rokkan 1967, Rokkan 1999, Collier and Collier 1991). In some countries in Latin America, such as in Chile and Uruguay, strong ideological cleavages emerged during the early steps towards democracy, and this resulted in an early prevalence of programmatic party competition. In other countries, a different historical sequencing allowed the established political elites to maintain clientelistic modes of mobilization. As a result, party systems may remain unresponsive to the demands of the citizenry for decades. It is these party systems that are then vulnerable to the kind of anti-establishment mobilization witnessed in Venezuela.
The results so far show that the way conflicts were mobilized early on affects the long-term capacity of parties to structure and represent voter preferences. I test these predictions in a quantitative over-time analysis of the quality of representation in ten Latin American countries. But there is also an alternative route to programmatic representation, one that is open even to those countries that lack the favorable historical circumstances of the forerunners in terms of democratic accountability. Consequently, I study how new parties exert pressure on party systems to become more responsive to voter preferences. This line of research is further developed in a new project on the Latin American left.
How much do instances of populist mobilization across space and time have in common?» Link to Special Issue
This ongoing project studies cleavage structures and party system formation in Latin America and Europe in comparative perspective. For the initial phase, conducted jointly with Daniele Caramani (then University of St. Gallen, now also at the University of Zurich), the project received funding by the Swiss National Science Foundation (2009-2012).» Project_Latin_American_Party_Systems.pdf (PDF, 52.87 Kb)
Project directed jointly with Daniele Caramani at the University of Zurich
My Ph.D. project assessed the ideological basis of right-wing populist parties and explains their varying success across countries by focusing on the strength of existing cleavages and partisan alignments, and on the strategies of the established parties with respect to their right-wing populist challengers. A book based on the Ph.D. was published by Temple University Press in 2010.» More on the book
Project conducted jointly with Marco Steenbergen and Livia Schubiger (University of Zurich) and Manuel Vogt (ETH Zurich)
From 2002 to 2006 I was a member of the project "National Political Change in Borderless Spaces: A Comparative Assessment of the Impact of Globalization on National Party Systems". The project was financed by the Swiss National Science Foundation and the German Research Community.» Read more on the book that emerged from this project
In the project „EU enlargement, cultural diversity and national identity”, financed by the European Commission, and part of the "EU-Consent - Wider Europe, Deeper Integration? Constructing Europe" network, I worked on the mobilization of national political parties against European Integration. A volume edited by Hans-Dieter Klingemann and Dieter Fuchs is in preparation. In a similar vein, I study the mobilization of Euroscepticism by different political parties in Scandinavia, Continental Europe, and Southern Europe.» Catalogue