Eduardo Alemán and
Sebastian Saiegh, "Political realignment and democratic
breakdown in Argentina, 1916-1930," Party Politics,
20 (November, 2014), 849-863. [Available at
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
- Table 1. Roll-call votes in Argentina,
- 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.
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