How do Regime Divides Emerge and What Happens When They Fade? Evidence from South America.

Simon Bornschier. Paper presented at the 2019 Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association (APSA), August 29-September 1, Washington, D.C. and revised for the ECPR Virtual General Conference 30 August – 3 September 2021.

The military dictatorships of the 1960 and 1970s in Latin America have left lasting imprints on some of the region’s party systems. But whereas regime divides have introduced a two- dimensional policy space in some countries, they have failed to manifest themselves in others. This paper constitutes an effort to theorize and then map out these differences. I argue that two distinct paths lead to the emergence of regime divides: Along the first path, an authoritarian regime’s economic policy legacy enables actors to interpret the regime question in terms of the established economic state-market cleavage. Along the second path, new parties – authoritarian successor parties on the right or parties on the left that suffered repression under authoritarian rule – politicize the regime divide. In countries that follow the first path, the regime and state-market dimensions overlap, while they tend to cross-cut along the second path. This difference has consequences for the strength and durability of regime divides, characteristics that I explore in a final step of the analysis. My analytical approach is to construct latent dimensions using elite and mass-level data to locate parties and voters on the economic state-market and regime divides. This allows for an analysis of the presence of a regime divide, as well as its cross-cutting or overlapping nature with respect to the state-market divides. In a second step, I assess the relative strength of the two divides by measuring how strongly they structure voter alignments.

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