América Latina Hoy, 65 (diciembre), pp. 45-77, 2013.
This paper focuses on the congruence of representation directly after the “third wave” of democratization in Latin America, and on its historical origins. It tests the argument according to which party systems that experienced ideological polarization in the early 20th century were set on a programmatic track and today are likely to exhibit high levels of congruence in the representation of their voters’ interests. In other contexts, where elites relied heavily on clientelistic resources to de-mobilize the citizenry when the suffrage was expanded in the first half of the 20th century, programmatic representation is likely to remain weak until the 1990s. These hypotheses are verified by combining the PELA-surveys of Latin American legislators with mass-level survey data. The results not only reveal important contrasts in the congruence of representation across the seven countries studied, but also that these differences can be explained rather well by historical patterns of party system formation.