Sometimes politicians run for office promising one set of policies, and if they win, switch to very different ones. Latin American presidents in recent years have frequently run promising to avoid pro-market reforms and harsh economic adjustment, then win and transform immediately into enthusiastic market reformers. Does it matter when politicians ignore the promises they made and the preferences of their constituents? If politicians want to be reelected or see their party reelected at the end of their term, why would they impose unpopular policies? Susan Stokes develops a model of policy switches and tests it with statistical and qualitative data from Latin American elections over the last two decades. She concludes that politicians may change policies because unpopular policies are best for constituents and best serve their own political ambitions. Nevertheless, even though good representatives sometimes switch policies, abrupt change tends to erode the quality of democracy.
• Combines democratic theory with empirical comparative analysis, statistical and qualitative • Will be of interest to readers in comparative politics, political theory, and election studies • Simply written, accessible to undergraduates
1. Elections, mandates, and representation; 2. Electoral politics and economic policy in Latin America; 3. Explaining policy switches; 4. Are parties what's wrong with democracy in Latin America?: neoliberalism without mandates: citizens respond; 5. Mandates and democratic theory; 6. Summary, predictions, unsettled questions; References.