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The Class Basis of Arqentine Political Parties*

  • Peter G. Snow (a1)

Extract

Students of Latin American political parties have long assumed a strong correlation between social class and party identification, yet this assumption has never been tested empirically in any of the Latin American nations. This is probably due in large part to the lack of reliable survey data; however, even the mass of aggregate voting data has seldom been analyzed systematically. As a result, most of what we know—or think we know—about voting behavior in Latin America is based upon the intuitive assumptions of North American scholars. “If I were a member of the Chilean middle class, I would probably vote for the Radicals or Christian Democrats, but on the other hand if I were quite wealthy I would probably vote for the Conservatives.”

Students of Argentine politics assume that the Conservative parties, always representing the interests of the nation's aristocracy, have received the bulk of their votes from the large landowners; that the interests of this group consistently have been opposed by the Radical parties who receive their electoral support from the urban middle classes; and that the more recently formed Peronist parties have championed the cause of, and been supported at the polls by, the industrial workers. It is the purpose of this article to test these assumptions, primarily through analysis of aggregate voting data, but also by examining the social backgrounds of party leaders and their actions while in power.

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*

Much of the data included in this article was obtained between September 1966 and August 1967 while the author was in Argentina. This trip was made possible by the generous financial assistance of the Henry and Grace Doherty Foundation and the University of Iowa Research Council.

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References

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1 Gallo, Ezequiel and Sigal, Silvia, “La formación de los partidos políticos contemporáneos: la UCR (1890–1916),” in DiTella, Torcuatoet al.Argentina, Sociedad de Masas (Buenos Aires: Editorial Universitaria de Buenos Aires, 1965), p. 163. A separate study shows the same to have been true of those who were elected to Congress in 1916. See Canton, Dario, El Parlamento Argentino en épocas de cambio (Buenos Aires: Editorial del Institute, 1965), pp. 5266.

2 According to Gallo and Sigal (op. cit., pp. 163–164) 69% of the Conservatives and 71% of the Radicals came from these classes, while 87% of the Conservatives and 91% of the Radicals had a university education.

3 See de Imaz, José Luis, Los que mandan (Buenos Aires: Editorial Universitaria de Buenos Aires, 1964), p. 185.

4 Palau, Pedro Huerta, Análisis electoral de una ciudad en desarrollo (Córdoba: Universidad Nacional de Córdoba, 1963), p. 27.

5 Smith, Peter, “Los radicales argentinos y la defensa de los intereses ganaderos, 1916–1930,” Desarrollo Económico 7 (0406, 1967), p. 826.

6 de Imaz, José Luis, La close alia de Buenos Aires (Buenos Aires: Universidad Nacional de Buenos Aires, 1965), p. 15.

7 Alexander, Robert J., “The Emergence of Modern Political Parties in Latin America,” in Maier, Joseph and Weatherhead, Richard W. (eds.), The Politics of Change in Latin America (New York: Frederick A. Praeger, 1964), p. 107.

* Much of the data included in this article was obtained between September 1966 and August 1967 while the author was in Argentina. This trip was made possible by the generous financial assistance of the Henry and Grace Doherty Foundation and the University of Iowa Research Council.

The Class Basis of Arqentine Political Parties*

  • Peter G. Snow (a1)

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