Return to: Search Page or to: Table of Contents Vol. 20, Issue 6

Eduardo Alemán and Sebastian Saiegh, "Political realignment and democratic breakdown in Argentina, 1916-1930," Party Politics, 20 (November, 2014), 849-863. [Available at http://ppq.sagepub.com/content/vol20/issue6/ ]

First paragraph:
Understanding what makes democracies fragile and more likely to break down has generated a great deal of scholarly interest in the field of comparative politics. In the past decade alone, several important works in political economy have focused on whether economic development and income inequality affect the stability of democracy. However, despite this recent surge of research, the proximate causes of democratic breakdown remain elusive. Two major limitations have affected the study of this phenomenon. First, many recent contributions tend to 'paint with too broad a brush'. Searching for greater degrees of generality, these studies often rely on models that are too simplistic to explain the problem at hand. The second limitation has been the tendency of country-level studies to emphasize unsystematic or exceptional factors as the main drivers behind democratic breakdown.

Figure 1. Social and economic indicators, Argentina (1913-1943).
Table 1. Roll-call votes in Argentina, 1916-1929.
Figure 2. Legislator's ideal points during Yirigoyen's first term 1916-1917 session.
Figure 3. Legislator's ideal points during Yirigoyen's first term 1918-1919 session.
Figure 4. Legislator's ideal points during Alvear's term 1922-1923 session.
Figure 5. Legislator's ideal points during Alvear's term 1926-1927 session.
Figure 6. Legislator's ideal points during Yirigoyen's second term 1928-1929 session.

Last Paragraph:
In terms of the broader debate regarding democratization, a key implication of our main findings is that, rather than needing a specific distribution of wealth, democratic consolidation requires that all major groups in society have a sufficiently large chance of being in power. This is particularly important for other transition countries in South America, Eastern Europe, Africa and Asia. Our analysis of legislative behaviour indicates that, in order to succeed, new democracies need both legitimacy of public contestation as well as legitimacy of public participation.

Last updated November 2014