Show Summary Details

Page of

Printed from Oxford Research Encyclopedias, Politics. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a single article for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 22 April 2024

Party Leadership and Institutionalization in Latin Americalocked

Party Leadership and Institutionalization in Latin Americalocked

  • Diana Davila GordilloDiana Davila GordilloInstitute of Political Science, Leiden University
  •  and Kristin N. WylieKristin N. WylieDepartment of Political Science, James Madison University

Summary

In Latin America, a general discontent with political parties persists, fueling challenges to the quality of democracy. Two prominent limitations of Latin American democracies stem from the weakly institutionalized and unrepresentative character of many parties and party systems in the region. A regional overview of party longevity shows that older parties are the minority, and with few exceptions (Uruguay and Colombia), they control neither the government nor the opposition. Yet while earlier studies of party institutionalization in Latin America tended to focus on longevity, subsequent studies have emphasized the multidimensionality of the concept. Party institutionalization connotes not only longevity but also routinization of formal and informal procedures, organizational complexity and cohesion, and societal roots. As evidenced by parties throughout the region, those multiple dimensions are nonmutual. Even in inchoate party systems many Latin American parties have survived and routinized (sometimes informal) decision making procedures, often in the absence of organizational cohesion and societal roots.

Although strong party organizations are important for democratic governance, they may be inversely related to party leadership, with strong leaders hindering party institutionalization. Leaders can alternatively play an important role in mobilizing voters and structuring party organizations, their routinization, and the party brand. While the region has been a global leader in the adoption of gender quotas and parity regimes and in women’s parliamentary representation, as of 2012, its party leadership remained dominated by men—the regional average in parties’ representation of women on their National Executive Commissions was just 20%. Willing party leaders in institutionalized parties are critical actors in the recruitment and support of candidates and can thus marshal party resources to help diversify party ranks. The inclusion of diverse voices in party leadership is important for responsiveness, legitimacy, and the quality of democracy more broadly.

Subjects

  • Political Institutions

You do not currently have access to this article

Login

Please login to access the full content.

Subscribe

Access to the full content requires a subscription