The political economy of market-oriented reform: Ideology and institutions in Latin America
AuthorJohnson, Gregg B.
KeywordsPolitical Science, General.
AdvisorCrisp, Brian F.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractWhat explains policy-making in modern, representative democracies? In theory, voters select the parry or candidate that most reflects their policy preferences and then elected officials pursue these policies once in office. Consequently, voters' preferences are transformed into policy outputs when they send an electoral mandate. While there is consistent evidence supporting this relationship in advanced, industrial democracies there are reasons to question the efficacy of the process in the developing world. Weak political parties and economic volatility undermine the power of the voters to influence policy outputs. In order to test whether voters can affect policy-making in the developed world I examine the adoption of market-oriented economic policies in Latin America during the 1980s and 1990s. The region experienced both extreme party shifts and severe economic crisis and thus provides a difficult test of mandate theory. Using a combination of fieldwork and region-wide analysis I find that mandates do function, although not always in the predicted fashion. Presidents in the region often abandon their electoral mandates, yet concerns that executive autonomy undermines the democratic process in Latin America seem largely unfounded. However, voters in presidential democracies select two agents and the second of these, the legislature, faithfully pursues its mandate. Furthermore, where the potential for collective action in the legislature is high legislators are better equipped to pursue their electoral mandates. Consequently. I conclude that electoral reforms that increase the potential for collective action in the legislature offer the opportunity to improve the quality of democracy in Latin America.
Degree ProgramGraduate College