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The Populist Road to Market Reform: Policy and Electoral Coalitions in Mexico and Argentina

  • Edward L. Gibson (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 13 June 2011

Governing parties face two fundamental tasks: they must pursue policies effectively, and they must win elections. Their national coalitions, therefore, generally include two types of constituencies—those that are important for policy-making and those that make it possible to win elections. In effect, governing parties must bring together a policy coalition and an electoral coalition. This distinction sheds light on how the transitional costs of major economic policy shifts can be made sustainable in electoral terms. It also provides a starting point for analysis of how two of Latin America's most important labor-based parties, the Peronist party in Argentina and the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI) in Mexico, maintained electoral dominance while pursuing free-market reforms that adversely affected key social constituencies. Peronism and the PRI are conceived of as having encompassed historically two distinctive and regionally based subcoalitions: a metropolitan coalition that gave support to the parties' development strategies and a peripheral coalition that carried the burden of generating electoral majorities. This framework permits a reconceptualization of the historic coalitional dynamics of Peronism and the PRI and sheds light on the current process of coalitional change and economic reform.

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Kenneth M. Roberts , “Neoliberalism and the Transformation of Populism in Latin America: The Peruvian Case,” World Politics 48 (October 1995)

Peter Smith , “The Social Bases of Peronism,” Hispanic American Historical Review 52 (1972)

Manuel Mora y Araujo , “La estructura social del peronismo: Un analisis interprovincial,” Desarrollo Economico 14 (1975)

Joseph Klesner , “Modernization, Economic Crisis, and Electoral Alignment in Mexico,” Mexican Studies/Estudios Mexicanos 9 (Summer 1993)

Maria Victoria Murillo in “Organizational Autonomy and the Marketization of Corporatism,” in Douglas Chalmers , eds., The New Politics of Inequality in Latin America: Rethinking Participation and Representation (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997)

Kathleen Bruhn , “Social Spending and Political Support: The ‘Lessons’ of the National Solidarity Program in Mexico,” Comparative Politics 28 (January 1996)

Joseph Klesner , “The 1994 Mexican Elections: Manifestation of a Divided Society?” Mexican Studies/Estudios Mexicanos 11 (Winter 1995)

Mick Moore , “Leading the Left to the Right: Populist Coalitions and Economic Reform,” World Development 25 (July 1997)

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World Politics
  • ISSN: 0043-8871
  • EISSN: 1086-3338
  • URL: /core/journals/world-politics
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