The politics of institutional change: Electoral reform in Latin America, 1978-2002


Journal Article

Building on the growing body of research on political institutions, this article explores the causes of electoral reform, with specific reference to Latin America. What factors account for the extensive array of electoral reforms adopted in the region since the return to democracy? How are shifting patterns of political representation related to institutional change? In addressing these questions, I develop an account of electoral reform that places shifting partisan political fortunes at the center of analysis and show that changes in the rules of the electoral game tend to reflect the political self-interest of dominant political parties as defined in relation to mounting electoral uncertainty. The evidence regarding the impact of electoral reforms on party system change is less consistent with the expectations derived from the comparative institutional literature. Over the past two decades, party system change in Latin America has generated institutional change more predictably than vice versa. Copyright © 2008 SAGE Publications.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Remmer, KL

Published Date

  • January 1, 2008

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 14 / 1

Start / End Page

  • 5 - 30

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1460-3683

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1354-0688

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1177/1354068807083821

Citation Source

  • Scopus