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Gerardo L. Munck and Jeffrey A. Bosworth, "Patterns of Representation and Competition: Parties and Democracy in Post-Pinochet Chile," Party Politics, 4 (October 1998), 471-493.

First Paragraph:
Since the end of military rule in 1990, Chile has regained its status as one of Latin America's most successful democracies. Much as when its democratic traditions were touted in the decades before the coup d'etat of 1973, Chile's current status is attributed to features of its parties and party system. In a nutshell, the nation's democratic success is seen to rest in large part upon the revival of a tripartite party system and non-personalistic and institutionalized parties, as well as the reduction of ideological polarization. This article supports, to a great extent, this positive assessment of current politics in Chile. Moreover it also shares the view held by most analysts of Chilean parties that the military government led by General Augusto Pinochet (1973-90) provides the immediate background for an understanding of the current situation. Attempting to provide a more balanced assessment of Chilean politics, however, this article also seeks to highlight certain negative developments in the party arena and to stress the limits of the re-emergent democratic system. Indeed, our key argument is that an important tension underlies Chilean politics, in that the very features that have made Chile more governable have also made it less democratic and, relatedly, that future democratic gains could be highly destabilizing.

Figures and Tables:
Figure 1: Chile's parties and party system: patterns of representation and competition
Table 1: Electoral patterns in Chile, 1937-97

Last Paragraph:
Chile's democracy, in sum, could be threatened in the short term not only because of insistence by the minor partner of the governing CPD that the authoritarian enclaves be removed, but also as a result of changes within the electorate, even in the face of institutional advantages, which could threaten the right's position. In both scenarios, however, responsibility for the course of events ultimately lies with the right. Indeed, the joint goals of democracy and stability are likely to elude Chile inasmuch as the right does not draw the same lessons as the center and the left have drawn from the democratic breakdown of 1973 and become fully committed to democracy.