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.