Return to: Search Page or to: Table of Contents Vol. 4, issue 1

David Plumb, "El Partido por la Democracia: The Birth of Chile's Postmaterialist Catch-All Left," Party Politics, 4 (January 1998), 93-106.

First Paragraph:
With the return to democracy in 1989, Chile's political parties won back their central role in the country's politics, having suffered 16 years of fragmentation and active repression under the military government. Despite the extended interruption, most observers have been impressed by the continuity of Chile's party system (Scully and Valenzuela, 1993; Coppedge, 1998). The parties, their respective popularity and even many principal leaders have not changed significantly since the 1973 coup. Chile's traditional party system appears to have emerged unscathed from the difficult years of dictatorship.

Figures and Tables:
Table 1: Free market versus state planning: respondents' positioning on a seven-point scale (%)
Table 2: Voting patterns since the 1988 plebiscite (%)

Last Paragraph:
Amid these uncertainties, two conclusions emerge. First, Chileans have shown increasing interest in new center orientated leftist discourse and Inglehart's postmaterialist issues during the last decade. Second, the PPD has successfully challenged traditional party politics in Chile by developing an alternative political culture and electoral strategy. The PPD's pragmatic consensus-orientated approach proved to be essential in the 1988 plebiscite vote and return to democracy. Their new political style will hopefully continue to promote centrist tendencies and democratic stability in Chile. For better or for worse, the catch-all party is becoming a central part of Chilean democracy in the 1990s.