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Floating Voters and the Rise of New Left Parties: Electoral Volatility During Party System Transformation

  • Thomas Mustillo (a1)


Volatility is a central theme of the scholarship on party competition. At the extreme, entire systems collapse. Bolivia, Ecuador, and Venezuela each went through a protracted period of change with the crash of old parties and the rise of new ones, including one representing the “new left.” Average electoral volatility grew by more than 50 percent and remained high for a decade or more. Can this churning surface of party death, birth, and change obscure undercurrents of stabilization in individual voting behavior? This project decomposes electoral volatility into two subtypes: system-level volatility—long-term spatial and temporal trends of change in support (e.g., realignment)—and individual volatility—fluid and cycle-specific fluctuations in support (e. g., electoral swing). It shows that the high volatility through the transformation has been at the system level, not the individual level. The cause is the stronger partisan and ethnic bonds mobilized by the new left.


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