Why did some Latin American labor-based parties adapt successfully to the contemporary challenges of neoliberalism and working class decline while others did not? Drawing on a detailed study of the Argentine Peronism, as well as a broader comparative analysis, this book develops an organizational approach to party change. Levitsky's study breaks new ground in its focus on informal and weakly institutionalized party structures. It argues that loosely structured party organizations, such as those found in many populist labor-based parties, are often better equipped to adapt to rapid environmental change than are more bureaucratic labor-based parties. The argument is illustrated in the case of Peronism, a mass labor-based party with a highly fluid internal structure. The book shows how this weakly routinized structure allowed party reformers to undertake a set of far-reached coalitional and programmatic changes that enabled Peronism to survive, and even thrive, in the neoliberal era.
• First book on how contemporary Peronist party functions, and one of few existing books on contemporary Latin American party organizations • Bridges European literature on party organization with Latin American cases, refining this literature to include cases of informal party structures • Explanation of Carlos Menem's extraordinary capacity to 'get away with' radical economic reform
1. Labor-based party adaptation in the neo-liberal era: rethinking the role of party organization; 2. Origins and evolution of a mass populist party; 3. An 'organized disorganization': the Peronist party organization in the 1990s; 4. Populism in crisis: environmental change and party failure, 1983–5; 5. From labor politics to machine politics: the transformation of the party-union linkage; 6. Menemism and neoliberalism: programmatic adaptation in the 1990s; 7. A view from below: party activists and the transformation of base-level Peronism; 8. The paradox of menemism: party adaptation and regime stability in the 1990s; 9. Crisis, party adaptation and democracy: Argentina in comparative perspective.
'… important and enlightening … a welcome and highly significant addition to debates on party institutionalisation, party systems, and democratisation. … a valuable contribution to the understanding of Peronism itself …'. Journal of Latin American Studies