Social scientists have often neglected, or not sufficiently explored, the role of political factors in shaping state capacity. When they did, they mostly focused on key institutional features of political regimes, especially democracy. In this paper, we broaden this approach: besides the institutional traits of democracy, we analyze how governments and their ideologies influence state capacity. In particular, we assess the impact of democracy and executives’ partisanship on a composite index of state capacity, based on political order, administrative ability, and extractive capacity. To this end, we apply a pooled cross-sectional time-series model to 18 Latin American countries between 1995 and 2009. Our findings suggest that, in recent years, state capacity in the region was significantly affected by both democratic features and the ideological bearing of elected governments.